Pretty impressive right? So why is this a company where the CEO has been replaced five times in five years – the latest of course being Marissa Mayer from Google? I would venture that it’s a classic failure of marketing, and in particular of never defining precisely what the brand stands for.
We live in times of information overload. And yet in the midst of all the ever-present noise, your business needs to carve out some small ‘share of mind’ in order to succeed. In essence this is the purpose of all advertising, and on a broader level, all marketing as well. Be noticed, be remembered, or be gone.
The very first step is to ensure that your brand stands for something – and by that I don’t mean that it makes a certain type of product or provides a particular service. The most successful brands have a reason for being that resonates. Apple is the paragon of high design, functionality and peak user interface. Nike is empowerment – living up to your potential. Budweiser is the beer for everyman, with no pretense. Volvo is the car that keeps your family safe. Nikon is the camera choice of professionals.
David Pogue of the Times wants to know, what the heck is Yahoo? It may seem obvious, but it’s exactly the right question to ask. And Ms. Mayer’s overarching task will be to finally define what the brand really stands for.
So by now if you’re in marketing or part of senior management, I’m sure this raises the question: ‘What does our brand stand for?’ Everyone at the company needs to know precisely what this is. And even more importantly, your customers (and especially your evangelists) need to know as well.
If they don’t, your first task should be to hire an experienced, creative marketing team that can get you on track. This is the sequence they should follow: 1) research 2) strategy and positioning and 3) highly innovative branding concepts and execution.
It’s not enough to make a great product today – although that certainly helps. You also need brilliant positioning and strategy to succeed over the long run. If you want to win, that has to be at the top of your agenda. Otherwise, you may well become a case study of yet another brand that never got it right.