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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Energizing Brands

The number of brands in the world is increasing rapidly. With that, you would think there would be a renewed effort to think about brand strategy, brand positioning etc. as the key to differentiation and the driver of corporate strategy, since research shows as much 33% of the valuation of public companies is linked to their brand. Just look at the companies with high two of the highest valuations in technology -- Apple and Google -- and think about how good they are at creating, enhancing and expanding their brands. Heck, we are so impressed by these brands that we don't even focus much on their mistakes or failures. We buy into their vision and are left in awe of their inventiveness.

These are, what the authors of a great article entitled "The Trouble with Brands," define as "energized brands." The article was published in Booz Allen's magazine Strategy + Business.

The article is well worth reading as it presents both a strong point of view and rare analytical data regarding brands (the authors developed and use Y&R's Brand Asset Valuator tool). But to summarize it , energized brands are comprised of three major components:

1. Vision. Brands with vision embody a clear direction and point of view on the world. They convey what they’re on this planet to achieve.

2. Invention. Brands that score high in invention change how people feel and the way they behave.

3. Dynamism. Brands with dynamism create excitement in the marketplace through the way they present themselves to consumers. Dynamism is the most emotional and immediately visible of the three components. It reflects the brand’s ability to inspire consumer affinity.

Clearly consumer brands are more the sweet spot for this, but you only need to overlay these three aspects as a lens to see how Apple, Google and a handful of other brands elevate themselves above the thousands of others that compete for our attention, our engagement and our loyalty. It is not just about marketing or communications to manipulate a brand. It is about vision, planning, aligning products with unmet needs in the market and defining the right customer for the product. And it only works when there is passion for excellence balanced by a culture that understands failing at times is part of the process of innovation -- as IDEO, the terrific market leader in engineering and design, likes to say, "fail often to succeed sooner!"

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Media Predicts 2010

Recently I attended a PRSA-hosted event called Media Predicts 2010 at the Computer History Museum in Silicon Valley.

Among the panelists attempting to predict the future of technology were Brad Stone from The New York Times, Connie Guglielmo of Bloomberg, USA Today's Byron Acohido, WIRED's Steven Levy, GigaOM blogger Om Malik, the Wall Street Journal's Ben Worthen and Matt Marshall from VentureBeat and the DEMO Conferences.

Some of the predictions were tame and, well, predictable, such as the companies to watch in 2010: Apple, Google,, FaceBook and Twitter. No one went out on a limb there. Many of the other predictions, however, were insightful and thought-provoking. Here are a few:
  • The Motorola Droid running Google's Android operating system over Verizon's network will crush Apple's iPhone; there is a rumor that Apple will release a new version of the iPhone on the Verizon network in 2011. From firsthand experience, I doubt this will happen.
  • M&A activity will increase leading to a smaller number of bigger companies. As result of the M&A activity, companies will become stronger and more profitable while at the same time laying off more employees increasing the level of unemployment not only in Silicon Valley but across the world.
  • Venture capital money will be very scarce with few, if any, companies receiving significant funding.
  • The "buffet" of free news on the Internet will end as newspapers, magazines and even some blogs will begin charging a fee for their online content. There may, however, be an uber-site that allows users to pay a single fee to access content from many news organizations, if the FTC decides to allow such a practice.
  • Apple's iTablet, or whatever it ends up being called, will finally become a reality, thus blurring the lines between smartphones, netbooks and laptop PCs.
  • Twitter will go out of business.
  • Twitter will figure out a way to make money.
  • Twitter will be acquired by Google.

The debate among the panelists as they gave their predictions for technology in 2010 was lively and for the most part informative.

What predictions for technology do you see for 2010?