You are in conversation with your consumer. Are you just saying “me” a lot? (Lookin’ at you, Wendy.)

Though she seems pleasant enough, I’m not convinced the public is as interested in Dave Thomas's living-logo daughter as the people who run Dave’s company these days believe. Mostly what I think it says is, “Remember when you used to come here a lot, when Dave the Founder was alive? Well, it's not that different since he passed on. See? Here’s his daughter! Please love us.”

The other day I gave some brainstorm-like quick reactions to a few restaurant brands whose communications I found less-than-effective. As I think about it, it seems to me my objections have their roots in some basic principles.

Which principles?

1. People Possess Native Intelligence. Marketing can either respect that, or operate in contempt or obliviousness.

2. Companies Must Operate With A Degree of Humility And Not Assume The Consumer’s Interest. Assuming that you’re interested in me is offensive in conversation. More and more, all companies are in a conversation with their consumers. Those who give consumers a reason to be interested (even if it’s as small as being genuinely funny or charming) or appeal to the consumers’ self-interest will win.

3. It Is Possible To Love A Product, Use A Brand, And Not Identify With The Communications At All. Some brands are such a part of people’s habits, or have earned such affection over the years, that their power is not dimmed by advertising that does not observe points one and two or, more commonly, just seems random or uninspired. But what a waste.

So there. Principles. Three of them.

I’m sure I can come up with more.