Ben Wise on Branding

Watching the world through the lens of the brand

Posts Tagged ‘brand position

Why Nokia’s Entertainment Play Will Flop

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Nokia, the world’s largest producer of cell phones, is planning to extend their footprint in the smartphone arena with an increased focus on entertainment, an extension from their existing emphasis on music. In a report in Marketing Week, the head of Nokia UK said “Offering total entertainment solutions and bringing entertainment to life is our new brand vision”.

This brand positioning is a mistake. While entertainment on your phone is a compelling value proposition to consumers, this space is already dominated by Apple’s iPhone. The iPhone brand is just too powerful in the entertainment position for Nokia to make inroads in this space. If Nokia’s “With Music” couldn’t compete with the iPod, why would their new position stand a chance against the iPhone?

When determining the brand position or value proposition, it is not enough to simply find a compelling position. The uniqueness is just as important, if not more so. In some instances, a second player can gain ground in the same space as a competitor, but they have to offer something unique. As far as I can see, Nokia is trying to emulate Apple’s smartphone strategy without having the innovative culture required to lead this market.

What do you think? Will Nokia’s new brand position be successful?

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Written by benwisebranding

February 3, 2010 at 8:12 pm

Free WiFi At McDonald’s Is Not A Run At Starbucks

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As of last Friday, you can now access free WiFi at almost all McDonald’s locations in the US. While much coverage of this has stated that McDonald’s is trying to take their brand more upscale, I believe that this misses the mark on their brand positioning.

The McDonald’s brand means different things to different people, but can be roughly separated into two groups. The first group is children, for whom the brand represents fun. The other group is almost all adults, who see McDonald’s as a convenience. The new WiFi offerings strengthens their brand’s position for both of these groups. Kids can now download the latest games, sometimes exclusive to McDonald’s to their handheld gaming devices.

And for the rest of us, it makes our 15 minute lunch stop at McDonald’s even more convenient. We can check our work email quickly, but locations aren’t taking down their signs stating something to the effect of ‘Please don’t stay longer than 30 minutes.’

This is the key difference between the brands of McDonald’s and Starbucks. Starbucks has long positioned themselves as a relaxing, home away from home. Free WiFi is a part of that positioning as you are encouraged to stay a while and soak in the atmosphere and culture (Starbucks even offers coupons for free music downloads on iTunes). McDonald’s is not moving in that direction.

However, as the only WiFi game in town, Starbucks did get the benefit of attracting customers that didn’t really care for their brand position but wanted the convenience of quickly checking their email. It is these customers that McDonald’s is trying to win back.

What do you think? Is this a bigger threat to Starbucks?

Written by benwisebranding

January 18, 2010 at 6:10 pm

Opportunities From the Heineken-Femsa Deal

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Earlier this week Heineken announced a $7.6 billion deal to buy Femsa, the Mexican brewer of such brands Sol and Dos Equis. This is a great move to Heineken who buys a foothold into the Central and South American markets where most of Femsa’s sales come from.

Without going through the lengthy list of mergers and acquisitions in the beer market, this deal emphasizes the consolidation of the global beer industry over the past 10 years in the hands of three dominant players: Heineken, SABMiller and AB-InBev. In many ways, consolidation in mature industries like this makes good business sense and benefits the consumers who get more reliable quality around the world.

The beer industry is unique because the brand position that is rooted in being independent and local is so powerful to beer drinkers. That is not to say that being the local brewery is enough to build a brand on, but it can be a strong platform if it is done well. And the ongoing consolidation in the beer market means fewer and fewer brands can credibly play in this space, even  if they attempt to be the ‘World’s Local Brewer’ as InBev claimed before acquiring Anheuser-Busch.

As smaller breweries are brought under the flag of the big guys they lose a lot of the character that once made them unique. Looking at the Canadian market, Keith’s is becoming more bland and generic by the day, Creemore has ditched their unique packaging and Sleeman’s is attempting brand extension after brand extension. It is the truly independent and local players that are benefiting from less competition for the position they are seeking, such as Moosehead, Mill St. and Steamwhistle (who is arguably the best in this space). I would expect to see more micro and regional brewers enjoy success as they can more easily occupy this compelling brand position.

What do you think? Have you seen similar trends in other markets?

Written by benwisebranding

January 13, 2010 at 6:55 pm

Posted in Beer

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