This afternoon at the Intercontinental Hotel, Glenn Platt and Peg Faimon of Miami University (Ohio) gave a presentation to discuss the idea of Brands creating APIs the same way online services create APIs.
Their definition of a Brand as an API was essentially this: Have consumers build new and useful thing with brand primatives. In this context, a brand primative is a single unique element of the brand that someone can tap into.
To set a contrast, Platt and Faimon called out the Charmin mobile app that helps you find public bathrooms, and the Dominoes pizza tracker. In both cases, the Brand made interesting data available but the prescribed how that information would be delivered.
In contrast, they want to urge brands to be more flexible and open. They cite the “maker movement” as an example of how people want to create things if given the raw building blocks. As they put it “get out of the way and enable doers.” They urged brands to connect with consumers on their terms, rather than their own terms, by creating an abstracted remixable layer alongside the traditional communication layer.
Their presentation is posted on their slideshare here.