Back to the future.

back to the future

Are marketing communications becoming more primitive as the digital landscape becomes more sophisticated?

That’s the premise of a recent article by marketing blogger, Kirsty Sharman. According to Ms. Sharman, the social web mimics pre-industrial times, when personal relationships and word-of-mouth were the primary ways to get information.

With the rise of mass media, brands moved toward sharing their stories through one-way communications via TV or radio commercials, for example, or print ads. But now, the Internet has people gravitating towards small communities again, just like in the old days. Social networks, blogs, Google search and IM platforms have brought our marketing strategies full circle, as well— back to a place where peer-to-peer communication is what we crave, and brand stories that relate to our personal niche are the ones we’re choosing to consume.

The takeaway for brand firms like us — and our clients? Stay personal, approachable, and relatable. For tech marketers, it’s essential to translate speeds and feeds into compelling human benefits.

The good old days are back and the future, according to Ms. Sharman, looks more personal.

Photo:  Dave Gilbert (Creative Commons)

Innovation. What drives companies to be the best.

October 13, 2014 / Branding, Consumer Technology
innovation branding

This year’s list of Best Global Brands has just come out, and the results aren’t that surprising.

Apple is in first place, considered the world’s most valuable brand, for a second straight year. Google is #2 followed by Coca Cola.

Of the top ten, half are tech brands. IBM is ranked #4, Microsoft #5 and Samsung #8.

The high rankings for these companies underscore another finding of the report: that the tech sector is the most valuable brand category, with a total value of $493.2 million.This is certainly understandable, given that technology is a sector driven by innovation, which is what keeps brands exciting and vibrant.

The other brands among the top ten include General Electric (a diversified company with technology components), McDonald’s, Mercedes Benz, and Coca Cola — all understandable choices and innovators in their respective categories.

Other innovative brands are moving up in their rankings on the list, as well. Facebook, for example, which had the highest percentage increase in value from last year, climbed to #29 from #52 in 2013. And Twitter is starting to get closer to appearing among the top 100.

So what have you been doing in the innovation department lately?

Photo:  Kay Kim (Creative Commons)

Is the battery running out on Radio Shack?

September 22, 2014 / Branding, Consumer Technology
retail market branding

Remember Radio Shack? Does anyone even go there anymore?

Apparently, fewer and fewer people. Last week, the electronics retailer posted another quarterly loss — $119.4 million — its tenth consecutive. The stock price is worth a little over $1 a share.

A recent New York Times article explains the reasons for Radio Shack’s current predicament.

“Radio Shack could have been Best Buy. It could have been Amazon. It could have become Dell. The paths that Radio Shack could have taken are numerous. But instead of choosing one, it chose them all, walking away from its place as the electronic hobbyist’s dream.”

In short, Radio Shack could never stake a position and stick with it. Instead, it chose to ride the wave of nearly every consumer tech trend — from desktops to home networking to smartphones — never committing to a consistent value proposition.

Now as the company struggles to find new financing to help it survive, it’s looking for a new direction yet again.

The lesson: Don’t let the latest market opportunity define your brand. That’s your job.

Photo:  Mike Mozart (Creative Commons)

What's up with IBM and its smarter planet?

consumer technology branding

In previous blogs we’ve sung the praises of IBM for its brilliant branding. So it pains us to read the recent negative press surrounding the corporate giant.

In a Forbes article, “Why IBM is in decline,” contributor Steve Denning talks about how in its relentless focus on driving up share price, the company has compromised its technology edge. In particular, the article cites IBM’s lagging behind in cloud computing. (It recently lost out to Amazon for a big contract with the CIA.)

Apparently, the company that touts solutions for a smarter planet is making some dumb decisions. Denning cites relentless cost cutting, a shift to cheaper expertise, and a focus on acquisitions instead of innovation.

To quote the conclusion of the article, “maybe it’s time for IBM to wise up.” Instead of financial engineering, the company should pay more attention to the other kind.

Photo:  Bob Cotter (Creative Commons)