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Should brand experiences be about openness or control?

January 5, 2007

Bringing a brand to life through experience creation has been going on for years and a few of the most iconic brands take it to the next level by building museums.

Coca-Cola has operated it’s own museum for decades, but now in the process of building a new one.

Interestingly, a key part of this museum will be to tell Coca-Cola’s philanthropy story showcasing some of the company’s efforts around the world including a clean water project in Kenya.

People are going to pay $8-$10 to visit an experience that presents a very controlled and one-sided point of view. Clearly, that’s why some brands are in love with the idea of creating permanent experiences. It’s almost the last place where they can tell their story, the way they want it to be told.

Mercedes is another brand spending millions creating centers to communicate their brand. It’s been forced to do this because it’s finding it hard to communicate their history as a luxury brand, using conventional media.

Given that a key part of the idea behind Marketing 2.0 is to engage in more of a two-way conversation with consumers, shouldn’t brand experiences and museums also reflect this change?

Shouldn’t brands big enough to have museums be “big” enough to use the experience as an opportunity for dialog, rather than the last bastion of spin control?

Perhaps brands shouldn’t be creating museums or experience centers, but “cultural hubs” that provide cultural value to the community and encourage diverse conversation.

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