At my book signing at SXSW12, I was asked a very pertinent question by someone in the audience. “Who owns the brand experience?”

The brand has never been more important today and has never been more complex in all of it’s interactions. If you look back in time, your brand experience was determined by a one to one relationship and it’s influence was relatively contained. We are, however in the 4th Brand Era where the focus has shifted from one of individual experiences, to brands as a continuous, social, collective experience including customer, company and community. It’s no longer enough to have a few brand stewards resting within marketing or sales, the social layer demands company wide adoption.

Companies need to assess first if they are culturally ready to listen and interact with this complex ecosystem and then determine their plan. How is this plan then integrated into, not only their marketing, but sales and IT too? How do they measure the brand discussions, assess favorability and mitigate a crisis that could potentially affect revenue.

How can companies take this one step further and collaborate with their customers to influence product development?

Companies who float on autopilot like jellyfishes on the currents of the day will end up unable to stay ahead. Do they have an underpinning social strategy or do they just look at social as a flimsy and check list layer?

These were some of the discussions that seeded my session idea for SXSWi 2013. The panel picker just went live yesterday and I would be most honored if you voted for the session and in addition left a comment on what you are looking to get from this session.