What is Product Ownership?
Tagged in: Blog Opinion
If your business is actively operating across multiple digital channels, but ultimately lacks a consolidated message, you may be in line to bleed more than just customers.
Finding order in the chaos
It’s no coincidence that we have symbolised knowledge with light. Much like moths, people are drawn to the illuminated beacon of order and simplicity that emerges from the darkness of natural chaos. Order makes the complex appear manageable, and convenience is always appealing to human nature. The universe is an unpredictable and scary place, so much so that when we tell a story that has the capacity to explain the universe more easily, people sleep more soundly.
Concentrating and reducing the overwhelming into digestible, bite-sized chunks was once the domain of wise men, druids, shamans and priests – they carried the beacon and provided insight through storytelling.
Way back in the day
When humans first started to curate order, we had it really easy. For instance, twice a year, the Celtic druids (the marketers of old) had a single medium at their disposal with which to brand one of their major clients, Bel, AKA the sun. Although we’ll never know what the message was, we know that the medium and consumer touch-point was Stonehenge. The gathered audience of wildlings watched as these druids channelled a single of the sun’s rays into the henge, as if poured purposively from the heavens (although, it probably helped that they were high on mushrooms and mead).
The druids exhibited order and predictability in the chaos of the sun’s oscillating annual journey and therefore personified a celestial body into a god – something almost human and therefore understandable. In so doing, onlookers were rendered awestruck, leaving smug smiles across the bearded faces of these early hipsters; stonehenge, magically illuminated, is the kind of majesty the more recent ad agencies have been capable of manufacturing for the brands they represented, albeit on a larger scale (and slightly more flexible calendar).
But the golden age is over.
The only similarity between a modern day brand’s message and the pure morning sunlight in a Stonehenge Solstice ritual is that it originates from a single source. What has happened since, is that with the constant division of labour, comes ever more and newer technologies, which, in turn, brings with it more mediums requiring yet more division of labour, which are all just more and more opportunities for disconnects to occur in your brand’s message.
Let’s put metaphors aside for a second – you need to market your brand; but, the list of mediums and touch-points as well as all the specialists working within them is growing on a daily basis. How will all of these specialists understand what your brand’s golden thread is as well as express it in such a way that there is relativity between each execution when they are operating in what might as well be different planes of existence? Apart from broadening our reach, all these channels are doing is making it easier for the dispersion of a simple message to occur (like a massive and expensive game of broken telephone).
What happens is that each specialist only operates on single specific wave of the original ray of light; and, so, every specialist that is introduced into the process further divides the original meaning into an even more dispersed spectrum. And this is supposed to happen. Because it provides the message with reach. However, what should occur (and often doesn’t) is that the individual waves must be able to be re-consolidated back into the original ray at a single point of arrival – without any disconnects. This single point of arrival is your product. Your E-store, your website, your app, or whatever behaviour it is that your message is intending to drive consumers to perform. They must all arrive at this point and feel that their journey was one smooth trip without any transitions. If the transitions and channel switching are palpable and obviously disconnected, consumers will experience that as chaos, and you will experience drop off. Expectation must equal reality.
Apart from the exceptions who can provide a full-service offering as described above, many agencies just can’t handle this kind of dynamism on their own – and nor should they, because it has the potential to turn them into circuses, not temples. At the other extreme are a handful of disconnected specialist agencies developing separate products that are broadcast across numerous mediums to a variety of audiences in a highly detached and complex manner. And so, if a single agency can’t handle the dynamism, and numerous agencies can’t handle the single message, what is the solution?
The Prism System
An unbiased, central proxy, ensuring that each agency, along with their different speciality mediums are correctly aligned to a strategically simple, overarching message – in other words there is product ownership. What we need is to embrace the simplicity with which the druids exhibited a single ray of sunlight as well as technology’s division of it into an ever wider spectrum – thus ensuring that flexibility and structure are contextually relevant at all times. In other words, if you want your message to reach far and wide, you must be more like light and be both at the same time.