TAC has me thinking about the idea of relationships with brands and brand generosity and other anthropomorphic notions of inanimate objects that drive me up the pole. While it’s the nature of brands to ascribe human qualities to products and services from faceless corporations, things have all gone a bit Oprah lately.

If I think about brands with which, for the sake of argument I’ll acknowledge I have some sort of relationship, it’s akin to the ‘relationship’ I have with a good waiter. He doesn’t drone on about his kids or tipping trends, he doesn’t ask me what I think of his new apron or recite his resume. He’ll share his thoughts on the menu or the wine list but spares me his ideas on solving the crisis in the Middle East. He’s there when I need him and melts into the background when I don’t. Once I’ve left, neither of us will give the other much thought. And best of all, he doesn’t stalk me on Twitter or try to “friend” me.

Suggesting that with a bit of social media savvy brands can create relationships with their customers is hyperbolic twaddle. The bond between brand and customer is at best, that of master and servant (a sadly outmoded concept). It’s about product performance and competence and consistency. It’s about continually adding relevant value (as Google does) and unless it’s quite revolutionary (like Google or iPod) it’s a complex and time-consuming business.

The best thing we as communications people can do is help brands not to destroy their customer “relationships” with extraneous babble and generally over staying their welcome.