Brand Image and Enthusiastic Consent.

In an age of unlimited B2B marketing content and endless opportunity to capture data, how do you protect your brand image and where do you draw the line?

Where are the brand image boundaries? What should and shouldn’t be posted?

“So, when you’re on the train Scot, you really don’t feel guilty about posting pictures of people eating burgers and doing their makeup and stuff? Isn’t it a bit unfair?”

“Nope, no guilt. It’s not a fair/unfair thing. It’s not even a B2B marketing or brand image thing. It’s a behavioural thing. I’m not sure when it became acceptable to board a rammed commuter train with a bacon-chili-double-cheese-burger and share the slurping, munching and belching with the carriage, but if it’s ok to do that, I think it’s ok to take a picture and share it. Same with the makeup. I’ve had clothes covered in liquid foundation because someone decided to do their makeup on the train instead of their own bathroom. It’s not like I get on the 07:20 to Waterloo, strip down to my smalls, shave my down below department and clip my toenails. Yeah, try and un-picture that image… If people want to improve their ‘brand image,’ they can change their behaviours.”

“What about your kids, are they a target for your snaps?”

“Actually no. I warned them about their brand image and online footprint when they first started using social channels, but I figure they don’t need me posting pictures of them, they can screw their personal brand image up all by themselves. How did you handle your kids?”

“‘Enthusiastic Consent’. That’s the rule we came up with for our kids. When they first headed online with Snapchat and Facebook and Instagram we tried banning them from posting pictures of people altogether – to not upset or embarrass anyone. That was never going to work though, so now the whole family has agreed not to post a picture of any part of anyone online without their express and ‘enthusiastic consent’. If one kid has a photo with even part of the leg (or whatever) of another kid in the corner, they need the enthusiastic consent of the leg-owner before they post.”

“That’s genius.”

“Well, it’s resolved every issue we’ve ever had with social postings and it’s avoided I don’t know how many potential conflicts before they’ve even happened – because everyone knows how to behave.”

“Brilliant. Do you mind if I adopt that?”

“Not at all. Are you going to use it with your kids?”

“No, they’re at the shaving penis shapes into hairy-legged boys at parties stage and posting the pictures online, so pretty much all hope of social thought leadership is lost. But I can use it at work as a brand image thing with clients and prospects.”

“Wow, you mean you’re going to make clients give you their Enthusiastic Consent to the work you present…?”

“Hell no. We have to settle for reluctant ambivalence most of the time – that’s the problem. Clients are all wrapped up in a failed agency selection process, or a political agenda, or the budget, or functional delivery. They’ve forgotten why we’re here. We’re here to help them tell a better brand positioning story so they can sell more shit. That’s it. The question isn’t, ‘Can you do that?’ It’s a point of proven fact – we do that. The question is, ‘Are we prepared to give our Enthusiastic Consent to a new B2B branding project?’ From now on, the client has to convince us, or we’re not doing it.”

“Right. So, what you’re saying is, you’re going to interview the clients, line them all up, and pick the ones you’d like to work with? Really? Is that really going to happen? Really, really?”

“Mmm. You’re right. It could be a challenge. Well, eh, could we at least expect a brief, a budget and an appetite for creativity?”

“Not really.”

“Ok, order the burgers and grab your lipstick – we’ve got some behaviours to change.”


Scot McKee