Ben Wise on Branding

Watching the world through the lens of the brand

Posts Tagged ‘Buzz

Google’s Growing Brand

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In the past decade, Google has become pervasive across any online experience. They have launched dozens of products – some very successful (eg. Gmail) and some not so successful (eg. Knol).

Many of these launches showcased their impressive innovation capabilities. This week Google took two steps to further entrench their brand into your internet experience. The first was the launch of Google Buzz and the second was the announcement that Google will move into the ISP sphere with a super high-speed network.

Initial reviews of Google Buzz, which seems to be getting more attention than the ISP news, haven’t been great. Users say it is just another tool that doesn’t add much value, and competitors have highlighted that Google is late to the Social Media game. Both of these points are true. What is intriguing is future potential of Google Buzz. The Google brand is not about one time innovation, but about ongoing improvements through innovation. Buzz might be a bust now, but if the Google brand lives up to its promise it could be trouble for Facebook and Twitter down the road. I know this hasn’t happened with all their launches (eg Knol), but social media is too important and too lucrative for Google to ignore. It is at their own peril that they ignore Buzz.

Google becoming an ISP has even bigger implications for internet users. Google makes their money almost entirely through small, targeted ads. The obvious benefit is that with a better connection, people will be online more and thus click on more ads. But equally important is that controlling the network will give Google access to mounds of data that competitors don’t have. Google’s ads have been successful because they are so targeted. This additional data will make that targeting even better, and will likely produce products that we can’t imagine yet. Either way, a big win for the Google brand and their consumers.

This has been a big week for Google. They are integrating forward and backward: forward from a platform to find information into the conversation between users and backward into the underlying infrastructure and technology.

What do you think? Will Google Buzz eventually be a success? Will you sign up to an internet connection provided by Google?

Written by benwisebranding

February 10, 2010 at 9:47 pm

Branding Through Buzz: Apple vs Microsoft

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Without officially mentioning a word about it, the Apple Tablet is generating lots of buzz, both online and offline. This isn’t the first time that Apple has managed to do this. Do you remember hearing about the launch of the iPhone months before it was announced? Apple has mastered the careful art of generating positive buzz, helping them build their brand and save millions in marketing. Can their strategy be copied by other companies to obtain the same rewards?

A great article in the Mac Observer (here) details how Apple does ‘controlled leaks’, which was further expanded (here) by Gawker. The secret lies, without going into too much detail, in total secrecy up to and after a specified leak.  This is where other companies might run into trouble. The amount of discipline at all levels of an organization that is required to pull this off correctly is astounding. Just think of any junior manager that wants to show off  to his friends and inadvertently leaks an upcoming product.

The other key for Apple is that it works best for products that are launched into a new category. Everyone knows that after this version of Windows, there will be a new one a few years down the road. Knowing the exact date is nice, but not nearly as exciting as it would be if Microsoft were doing this for a new TV they were launching, or better yet, a revolutionary new category.

The buzz created by these leaks is hugely beneficial for the brand. Apart from the tactical advantages it provides (early customer reaction to potential features, price point, etc), the buzz generates brand equity by being seen as trendy and leading edge, especially important in the high tech industry.

In contrast with Apple, Microsoft has struggled in creating much buzz around their product (with a bit of an exception with Windows 7). Yesterday at CES Microsoft announced their new tablet, in conjunction with HP. However, the brief demonstration of the prototype had little on the features of the product, leaving consumers confused to its benefits. While Apple’s leaks lead to a specific launch date, the official Microsoft announcement said the product would be launched sometime in 2010.

I can see why Microsoft was trying to steal some of the spot light from Apple, but this will only hurt their brand by confusing and frustrating consumers, making them even more likely to jump ship to a competitor’s (read: Apple) product.

What do you think? Is there anyone that does buzz as well as Apple?

Written by benwisebranding

January 7, 2010 at 6:20 pm

Posted in Tech

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