Or they might not even give you a chance to speak in the first place. In due course it may be that the only time a brand will get to communicate with a consumer is when that consumer invites it to. The key is for brands to drop the subtle psychological bullying and try genuinely interacting with their audience.
Of course, it's easier said than done, but emphasising commonly held values can reap enormous rewards. For example, Apple's expansion into the music download market with iTunes has done an extraordinary amount to build the Apple brand. It wasn't just the initial commercial success of the iTunes project (2 million downloads in its first two weeks of existence), it was also being the first major player to take the lead in the brave new world of legal music downloads. Taking that lead demonstrated a set of values that millions of Internet literate music lovers could identify with. Never mind the fact that (until recently) iTunes wasn't available outside of the United States, the flood of great publicity and positive branding spin-offs for Apple were worldwide.
As great as that is, allowing consumers to contribute to defining brand values is even better. Linux (and the rash of companies taking advantage of open source software development) is a point in case, but it doesn't only apply to software. Shoe designer John Fluevog is pioneering the art of open source footwear, inviting people to submit designs and ideas for future shoes.
Encouraging consumers to participate at that level allows them to take ownership of the brand, with huge implications for brand loyalty. For example, future-spotting newsletter TrendWatching.com predicts the rise of a trend it dubs the "Insperience." Essentially the "Insperience" trend represents consumers' desire to invite brands, offering experiences exclusive to the public domain, to set up shop within their own domestic domain. For example, tapping beers on a Heineken BeerTender in one's entertainment room.
Traditionally the concept of the consumer as king has been little more than a good idea to which brands pay lip service. However, the balance of power between consumers and brands seems to be shifting fast. Unless brands toe the line, they could well find themselves out in the cold.