What is a Web 2.0 Brand?

From among the thousands of information technology companies how do you identify the great brands. This is a question that obviously bedevils all of us marketers, including Michael Krauss, veteran strategic matter, whose column “Tech Matters” appears in the Chicago Sun Times.

In his latest article in Marketing News – AMA’s monthly magazine, Michael contemplates the very definition of a great brand. What makes a brand great? He then identifies great brands by putting them through the Primal Code – a set of 7 criteria, put forth by Patrick Hanlon (check out his blog here) in his recent book.

All belief systems have seven pieces of code that work together to make them believable — the creation story, the creed, the icons, the rituals, the pagans, the sacred words, and the leader.

I thought it’d be enlightening for us to evaluate a sampling of Web 2.0 companies to figure out which of these companies have the attributes of a great brand based on the Primal Code.

Recently, Michael Arrington of TechCrunch, shared his list of web 2.0 winners (recent web 2.0 startups, all of whom have been acquired) and I thought it may be a good idea to validate the Primal Code by comparing the most prominent among them:

1. MySpace
The creation story: two students Tom Anderson & Chris DeWolfe start MySpace in 2003, The creed: “a place for friends“, The icons: old logo, the rituals, the pagans: music industry, and the leader: MySpace Tom

2. YouTube
The creation story: YouTube, Inc. was founded by early employees of PayPal, The creed: “Broadcast yourself“, The icons, The rituals: none, The pagans: music & movie industry (however this just in — Warner to license music in YouTube videos!, The sacred words: none, and the leader: no singular presence

3. Flickr
The creation story: Flickr was founded by husband-wife team Caterina Fake and Stewart Butterfield, The creed: “the best way to store, search, sort and share photos“, The icons, The rituals: online community tools that enable photo-tagging, The pagans: traditional photo sites, The sacred words: none, and the leader: no singular presence

Will MySpace & YouTube join the elite club of recent technology brands — Yahoo! and Google, both sharing similar creation stories?

What in your opinion is the quintessential primal brand? Feel free to comment.

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  1. Mario Sundar

    You’re so right, Paul. Apple is the ultimate example of a primal brand.

    Patrick Hanlon also goes on to point out a few others such as Santa, Saab, etc… I think it’d take a while for some of the new web 2.0 brands to establish themselves, so it may be a bit early to evaluate them.


  2. Paul McEnany

    The quintessential primal brand – Apple has to be at the top of the list.
    Creation story – Apple 1 built in Jobs’ parent’s garge. Creed – Think Different. The Icons – apple logo, ipod, mac. The Rituals – New product announcements, digital downloads The sacred words – Mac, IPod, ITunes. The Leader – Steve Jobs.

    Not Web 2.0 entirely, but still a pretty good example of a primal brand.

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