Ben Wise on Branding

Watching the world through the lens of the brand

Posts Tagged ‘iPad

Getting the Most from Brand Extensions

leave a comment »

For the past few months I have been working with a client on evaluating a brand extension opportunity. Whenever someone mentions this topic, marketers immediately start talking about ‘fit’ – how well the new category fits with the attributes of the existing brand.

For example, if a company makes pencils, extending the brand into erasers would be a good fit. While it is rarely this simple, the concept of fit in brand extensions is pretty straightforward and can easily be confirmed with some basic consumer research.

There are two deeper strategic questions that need to be included when evaluation a brand extension:

  1. Does the extension category align with the strategic path that the brand is on?
  2. Would a successful product in the extension category add value to the master brand?

Alignment with the Strategic Path

Few brands are able to survive selling the same product forever. Brands usually need to extend themselves into new markets to allow for growth. Each individual extension of the brand is one step along this path. Thus, when evaluating your next step you must understand the longer path that your brand is on.

For example, before the iPod, Apple just sold computers. Extending to portable music players was a good fit because their laptops already provided portable devices that emphasized creativity. But at this time, jumping from laptops to cell phones would have been a step too far. Once the iPod had become successful, the overall Apple brand included small, handheld devices allowing them to further extend in this space – hence the iPhone.

The same could be said for the iPad. Jumping from an iPod to an iPad would have been too much of a stretch, but having the iPhone and iTouch in between made a tablet product a logical next step. Each new Apple product is the logical next step that also paves the way for the step after that.

Enhancing the Master Brand

Brand extensions can be loosely placed into two groups: those that dilute the master brand and those that enhance it. If Heinz launched a 58th flavor of ketchup it would dilute the brand. The Heinz master brand doesn’t improve but it is now spread across more product.

Using the Apple example again, each brand extension enhanced the overall Apple brand and each new product was a step on the path toward creating a master brand about lifestyle entertainment. The launch of the iPhone improved the brand for iPods and laptops too.

What do you think? Is fit enough for brand extensions or should brands seek more value?

Written by benwisebranding

April 12, 2010 at 8:18 pm

Collaboration Gives a Brand an Advantage

leave a comment »

­With early reviews of the iPad hitting the blogosphere, Google has announced that their Chrome browser will now have Adobe Flash built-in. In case you haven’t read any reviews of the iPad, one of the biggest areas of contention is the lack of support for Flash.

It is easy to view this as a swipe at Apple (see here), and in many ways it is.

But at a deeper level, this is a profound statement about the Google brand. While Apple chooses to develop almost everything themselves with Steve Jobs holding the final decision of everything, Google works in a more open and collaborative way. This distinction should carry great weight with consumers.

Apple and Steve Jobs have been very good at understanding and addressing (and creating) consumer needs in the past decade. The iPod and iPhone have been revolutionary. But how long can a brand last if they plan on continually developing revolutionary ideas internally? At some point, you need to widen your pool of ideas.

This is where Google thrives. When they launch a product, they often do so in some sort of Beta form and are quick to make adjustments based on consumer feedback. Throwing their weight behind Adobe’s Flash shows they are willing to work with others to improve their own products. This might not deliver the creative spark of genius that Apple has used in their product development, but in the long-term it will satisfy consumer needs far better.

Google’s action show that it understands that their brand encompasses their entire business system, from product development, to marketing, to distribution. Collaboration is an essential part of Google’s brand system at all levels.

Apple may be everyone’s favourite brand right now, but it is the open and collaborative brands like Google that will see the most success.

What do you think?

Written by benwisebranding

April 1, 2010 at 4:51 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , , , ,

Amazon Devalues Their Brand

leave a comment »

After a lengthy battle with MacMillan, a big publisher, Amazon conceded to their demand to stop selling their e-book titles at the low price of $9.99. The specifics of their dispute are another matter, but the end result will surely hurt the brand of Amazon’s e-book reader, the Kindle.

From the consumer’s point of view, the reader is produced by Amazon and the book is produced by MacMillan. A classic fight between hardware and content. As has been seen in the past, the loser of the fight often becomes the producer of a commodity product while the winner can charge a price premium garnering high profits. Think of PCs – Microsoft was the big winner on content while the HP, Dell, IBM and others continue to duke it out over what has essentially become a commodity. By giving in to MacMillan, Amazon may have sent the Kindle down a similar path.

Will this happen to Amazon’s Kindle? There are arguments on both sides of the coin. Amazon not only produces and sells the hardware, but is the retailer of the content too. Even if the Kindle were to become a commodity product they would still benefit from increased adoption and sales of the e-books. While the Kindle brand would be diminished, Amazon would still benefit.

The second factor is the recent introduction of the iPad by Apple. Apple has maintained a differentiated computer/laptop product and could easily do so in the e-book space as well by leveraging their innovation capabilities. This could relegate the Kindle, along with all the other new e-book readers, to the commodity arena.

As proof of the diminished power of the Kindle brand, News Corp is already pushing for the same deal given to MacMillan. I’m sure they won’t be the last ones to do so.

What do you think? What does the future hold for the Kindle?

Written by benwisebranding

February 4, 2010 at 4:49 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , , , ,