The consumer is crowned king and queen. What they do with it is the next chapter of American advertising.

“Power is now in the hands of the consumer,” has been a common refrain in the advertising and social media world for 5 years now. This article in the New Yorker brings it more forward in our collective consciousness. People are empowered and they know it.

It’s harder than ever before to create a brand that is unhinged from the reality of your company. If you make a crappy product people are going to find out about it. Branding isn’t about rainbows and unicorns, it’s about being honest about who you are. Top to bottom, inside and out.

You can’t blame Yelp, Facebook or Consumer Reports for your business problems anymore

Is this the end of branding? I prefer to think of it as the beginning of humanity.

Here’s a little taste of the article by James Surowiecki

‘Today, consumers can read reams of research about whatever they want to buy. This started back with Consumer Reports, which did objective studies of products, and with J. D. Power’s quality rankings, which revealed what ordinary customers thought of the cars they’d bought. But what’s really weakened the power of brands is the Internet, which has given ordinary consumers easy access to expert reviews, user reviews, and detailed product data, in an array of categories. A recent PricewaterhouseCoopers study found that eighty per cent of consumers look at online reviews before making major purchases, and a host of studies have logged the strong influence those reviews have on the decisions people make. The rise of social media has accelerated the trend to an astonishing degree: a dud product can become a laughingstock in a matter of hours. In the old days, you might buy a Sony television set because you’d owned one before, or because you trusted the brand. Today, such considerations matter much less than reviews on Amazon and Engadget and CNET. As Simonson told me, “each product now has to prove itself on its own.”’