Ben Wise on Branding

Watching the world through the lens of the brand

Posts Tagged ‘Microsoft

Why Google Is Dropping Microsoft

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A couple of days ago, Google announced that they are phasing out Windows from the business operations. The reason? Security.

I don’t buy it!

This article from ComputerWorld does a great job explaining why security isn’t really the issue for Google. Basically, when hackers go after a company, they choose the company based on something other than their OS. Not to mention that the vast majority of the world’s largest companies find Windows to be secure enough for them.

So Why is Google ditching Microsoft?

The obvious reason is that Microsoft is increasingly coming into direct competition with Google – search engines, smart phones, web browsers. Before the end of the year, you’ll be able to add operating systems to that list. But what has changed to prompt the sudden shift?

Google’s next big push is getting computer users to embrace the cloud as their main source of software, particularly for enterprise users. This means moving from Microsoft’s highly lucrative Office suite to a cloud based solution. While Google Docs has been around a while now, it still isn’t perceived as a strong enough software package for enterprise users.

Google Is Leading By Example

Google’s move away from Windows and MS Office shows that there are other solutions viable solutions available to large enterprise customers. The interesting part is not that Google has switched, but it will be watching who follows suit.

What do you think? Why is Google dropping Windows?

Written by benwisebranding

June 2, 2010 at 5:14 pm

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Apple Is All Grown Up, No Longer the Underdog

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It has been hard to miss the news that Apple’s market cap surpassed Microsoft yesterday, making it the most valuable tech company in the US, and second overall, behind Exxon Mobil. Earlier this week, Apple also announced that they will be ending the much-loved ‘Get a Mac’ ads (check out their 10 best ads).

I thought it was perfect timing that both of these happened in the same week, as they both portray the reality that Apple is all grown up and can no longer play the role of underdog, which was so clearly portrayed in the ‘Get a Mac’ ads.

For years Apple has played the role of the underdog to perfection. Fighting against industry giants like Microsoft and Sony, Apple managed to maintain this ‘little guy’ market position despite their rapidly growing top and bottom lines.

Luckily for Apple, this change in position has been fairly gradual over the past couple of years as they increasingly occupy the market space around cool, entertainment, and ease of use. As their soaring market cap can attest to, these are obviously powerful attributes for a brand to be associated with.

However, Apple does face risks. While they were once the beloved scrappy underdog, they will now face competitors who can credibly play that role. Apple has already taken some bad press for the mysterious process of getting apps approved (or denied!), and may encounter further resistance as other app stores catch up and offer a credible alternative.

The biggest risk Apple faces, however, is inflated expectations, everywhere from Wall Street to Main Street. After a series of industry changing innovations (at least 6 by my count), consumers will be disappointed in any new product that isn’t a home run.

What do you think? Can Apple’s winning streak continue?

Written by benwisebranding

May 27, 2010 at 8:13 pm

Underdog Brands

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People are naturally attracted to the underdog. The story of the little guy that beat the odds gives everyone a warm and fuzzy feeling inside. In a brand context, this is no different. A brand that is well positioned as the underdog can use this as a powerful marketing tool to gain consumer loyalty.

Here are a few quick examples:

  • Pepsi is the underdog to Coke and used this to effectively capture the youth market
  • Adidas is the underdog to Nike and has grown their brand considerably in the past decade
  • Apple is the underdog to Microsoft/Nokia/HP (and more) and has become one of the most powerful brands on the planet

What do all of these brands have in common?

A key part of playing the underdog role is a sense of irreverence towards the bigger guys. Don’t try to copy what your competitors are doing, find an exciting, scrappy way to win then flaunt it as much as possible.

Second, if you look at the above list of underdogs, they are all seen as cool and rebellious. There is a social status aspect for consumers who buy and use these brands.

Finally, all of the underdog brands promote emotional benefits, not functional ones. This allows them to develop consumers that are much more loyal to their brand. People feel very strongly about supporting the underdog and are going to try to convince others to do so as well – even once the ‘little guy’ has become a behemoth, as with all of the above examples.

What do you think? What other brands play the role of the underdog?

Written by benwisebranding

April 20, 2010 at 11:22 pm

Apple, Google & Microsoft: The Technology Wars

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In light of the upcoming announcement from Apple about the tablet I thought I would take a look at the big players in tech. There have been several commentaries on who is actually competing with whom as the tech giants start to encroach on each other’s space.

The three key players in this space today are Apple, Microsoft and Google, who don’t actually compete with each other as directly as many think. Conveniently, each of these brands has carved out their own space in which they enjoy a lucrative business.

Microsoft may be seen as the lumbering giant who can’t keep up with their hipper rivals, but you can’t deny their dominance in the corporate arena. Unless you work at a creative agency, odds are that you are using Windows. No matter how ‘cool’ Apple’s products are, they don’t stand a chance in the business environment and while Google Docs is a helpful service, it is years away from the sophistication of the MS Office Suite.

Google, with their vast array of data centers and online services controls the ‘cloud’. Microsoft has seen the appeal of this market and is trying to move in this direction, but stealing market share from Google has proven a tricky task.

Finally, Apple has come to dominate the home. In a world where all media is becoming digital, Apple’s media friendly devices are becoming the standard. Today’s announcement of the new tablet will only reinforce this positioning.

Despite their entrenched positions, Apple, Google and Microsoft are all trying to move into each other’s turf. Google is chasing Microsoft with Google Docs and going after Apple in the smart phone arena. Microsoft is chasing Google online, pouring millions of dollars into Bing in an effort to win greater market share there. Apple is the only one who is staying focused, but may be tempted to start targeting corporations (with either laptops or smart phones) as people get used to their products.

It will be difficult for any of these three to make inroads in a new space as their brands are strongly rooted in their existing products. People don’t need Apple’s ‘sleek creativity’ to make a spreadsheet at work. But making a move into your competitor’s backyard will serve to help keep each other honest. Toyota moved into the US with small cars and the big three ignored them. They could have retaliated in Japan, but instead they let Toyota gain a foothold on their home turf (and we can all see how that worked out for them). So don’t expect big changes between these three giants, but don’t expect them to drop their expansion efforts either.

What do you think? Can any of these brands expand into new areas? Should Facebook be included in the list of tech giants?

Written by benwisebranding

January 27, 2010 at 1:55 pm

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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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