09 July 2008

Diluted Brands: Just Add Everything

I was talking to Jane Chin on Plurk about her conundrum of too many blogs, and too little focus, and she’s not alone. My feeling was that in today’s hyper-niched world – brought to you by the wide and vast internet – brands are forced to go narrow and deep instead of wide and broad in order to retain their relevance. I’m not the first to say this, of course. (Check out The Long Tail.)

Here’s why I’m adamant that a focused brand beats an “everything” brand any day (unless you're a bagel).

Managing expectations.
Focusing your brand means that your community always knows what to expect from you. This doesn’t mean that you never do anything innovative, it just means that your innovations are focused on the things that add value, interest, or dimension to your brand while still responding to the needs of your community.

Solving real problems.
As the saying goes, you can’t please all of the people all of the time, and if you try, you risk your brand feeling a little schizophrenic. But if you focus your efforts on the things you’re passionate about and you can do best, you’ll truly be able to solve problems for the community that needs you.

Longevity.
Brands that are built with purpose and depth have the foundation to endure, adapt, evolve.

Some discussion amongst the smart folk yielded a few examples of brands that may have lost their focus:

Starbucks and their forays into music and chocolate?
Mercedes by offering lower end cars for mass markets?
Barack Obama by hitting the campaign trail with Hillary Clinton?
Coke – too many varieties?
Harley-Davidson and their cake decorating kit (no, I’m not kidding)
Target – are they getting into too many things?
Martha Stewart – just how many things can one license in how many quality/price tiers and still be competitive?

Do you have examples of brands that are diluted? How important is it for a brand to stay narrow and deep? What keeps a brand relevant to you even as they evolve? Let’s talk more.

Photo Credit: Bripc
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3 comments:

Matthew Bennett said...

Hi, I found this via Plurk. It's interesting but I'm not sure about 'niche' v. 'coherent'.

Starbucks, in my mind, could be more coherent around the central idea of quality coffee but I would tend to think of a niche as something like 'italian espresso' or 'blue mountain roasts'. There's no reason Starbucks as the quality coffee go-to brand couldn't dominate the seperate niches as well if it wanted to.

I also like your idea of solving problems that your community needs you to solve.

Beth Harte said...

Amber, how about GEICO? Yes, they only sell insurance, but I think they have advertising schizophrenia that leads to brand dilution. They have the Gecko, the Cave Men, the Spokespeople (Don LaFontaine & Peter Frampton speaking for the customer?) and the flash-back (Chatty Cathy) ads all running at the same time (at least in this market). Now that’s an example of trying to be all things to all people, but what I don’t get is who they are trying to target. Is it people that like the Gecko more than Peter Frampton? Or perhaps it’s the people that like Chatty Cathy but not cave men? Or maybe it’s the people that love cave men but not Don LaFontaine. That is an ad strategy that I’d like more insight into.

Sean said...

The obvious opposite is Virgin, who seem to slap their name to almost anything, however, it does seem to work well for Mr. Branson.

09 July 2008

Diluted Brands: Just Add Everything

I was talking to Jane Chin on Plurk about her conundrum of too many blogs, and too little focus, and she’s not alone. My feeling was that in today’s hyper-niched world – brought to you by the wide and vast internet – brands are forced to go narrow and deep instead of wide and broad in order to retain their relevance. I’m not the first to say this, of course. (Check out The Long Tail.)

Here’s why I’m adamant that a focused brand beats an “everything” brand any day (unless you're a bagel).

Managing expectations.
Focusing your brand means that your community always knows what to expect from you. This doesn’t mean that you never do anything innovative, it just means that your innovations are focused on the things that add value, interest, or dimension to your brand while still responding to the needs of your community.

Solving real problems.
As the saying goes, you can’t please all of the people all of the time, and if you try, you risk your brand feeling a little schizophrenic. But if you focus your efforts on the things you’re passionate about and you can do best, you’ll truly be able to solve problems for the community that needs you.

Longevity.
Brands that are built with purpose and depth have the foundation to endure, adapt, evolve.

Some discussion amongst the smart folk yielded a few examples of brands that may have lost their focus:

Starbucks and their forays into music and chocolate?
Mercedes by offering lower end cars for mass markets?
Barack Obama by hitting the campaign trail with Hillary Clinton?
Coke – too many varieties?
Harley-Davidson and their cake decorating kit (no, I’m not kidding)
Target – are they getting into too many things?
Martha Stewart – just how many things can one license in how many quality/price tiers and still be competitive?

Do you have examples of brands that are diluted? How important is it for a brand to stay narrow and deep? What keeps a brand relevant to you even as they evolve? Let’s talk more.

Photo Credit: Bripc
Zemanta Pixie

3 comments:

Matthew Bennett said...

Hi, I found this via Plurk. It's interesting but I'm not sure about 'niche' v. 'coherent'.

Starbucks, in my mind, could be more coherent around the central idea of quality coffee but I would tend to think of a niche as something like 'italian espresso' or 'blue mountain roasts'. There's no reason Starbucks as the quality coffee go-to brand couldn't dominate the seperate niches as well if it wanted to.

I also like your idea of solving problems that your community needs you to solve.

Beth Harte said...

Amber, how about GEICO? Yes, they only sell insurance, but I think they have advertising schizophrenia that leads to brand dilution. They have the Gecko, the Cave Men, the Spokespeople (Don LaFontaine & Peter Frampton speaking for the customer?) and the flash-back (Chatty Cathy) ads all running at the same time (at least in this market). Now that’s an example of trying to be all things to all people, but what I don’t get is who they are trying to target. Is it people that like the Gecko more than Peter Frampton? Or perhaps it’s the people that like Chatty Cathy but not cave men? Or maybe it’s the people that love cave men but not Don LaFontaine. That is an ad strategy that I’d like more insight into.

Sean said...

The obvious opposite is Virgin, who seem to slap their name to almost anything, however, it does seem to work well for Mr. Branson.

09 July 2008

Diluted Brands: Just Add Everything

I was talking to Jane Chin on Plurk about her conundrum of too many blogs, and too little focus, and she’s not alone. My feeling was that in today’s hyper-niched world – brought to you by the wide and vast internet – brands are forced to go narrow and deep instead of wide and broad in order to retain their relevance. I’m not the first to say this, of course. (Check out The Long Tail.)

Here’s why I’m adamant that a focused brand beats an “everything” brand any day (unless you're a bagel).

Managing expectations.
Focusing your brand means that your community always knows what to expect from you. This doesn’t mean that you never do anything innovative, it just means that your innovations are focused on the things that add value, interest, or dimension to your brand while still responding to the needs of your community.

Solving real problems.
As the saying goes, you can’t please all of the people all of the time, and if you try, you risk your brand feeling a little schizophrenic. But if you focus your efforts on the things you’re passionate about and you can do best, you’ll truly be able to solve problems for the community that needs you.

Longevity.
Brands that are built with purpose and depth have the foundation to endure, adapt, evolve.

Some discussion amongst the smart folk yielded a few examples of brands that may have lost their focus:

Starbucks and their forays into music and chocolate?
Mercedes by offering lower end cars for mass markets?
Barack Obama by hitting the campaign trail with Hillary Clinton?
Coke – too many varieties?
Harley-Davidson and their cake decorating kit (no, I’m not kidding)
Target – are they getting into too many things?
Martha Stewart – just how many things can one license in how many quality/price tiers and still be competitive?

Do you have examples of brands that are diluted? How important is it for a brand to stay narrow and deep? What keeps a brand relevant to you even as they evolve? Let’s talk more.

Photo Credit: Bripc
Zemanta Pixie

3 comments:

Matthew Bennett said...

Hi, I found this via Plurk. It's interesting but I'm not sure about 'niche' v. 'coherent'.

Starbucks, in my mind, could be more coherent around the central idea of quality coffee but I would tend to think of a niche as something like 'italian espresso' or 'blue mountain roasts'. There's no reason Starbucks as the quality coffee go-to brand couldn't dominate the seperate niches as well if it wanted to.

I also like your idea of solving problems that your community needs you to solve.

Beth Harte said...

Amber, how about GEICO? Yes, they only sell insurance, but I think they have advertising schizophrenia that leads to brand dilution. They have the Gecko, the Cave Men, the Spokespeople (Don LaFontaine & Peter Frampton speaking for the customer?) and the flash-back (Chatty Cathy) ads all running at the same time (at least in this market). Now that’s an example of trying to be all things to all people, but what I don’t get is who they are trying to target. Is it people that like the Gecko more than Peter Frampton? Or perhaps it’s the people that like Chatty Cathy but not cave men? Or maybe it’s the people that love cave men but not Don LaFontaine. That is an ad strategy that I’d like more insight into.

Sean said...

The obvious opposite is Virgin, who seem to slap their name to almost anything, however, it does seem to work well for Mr. Branson.