The Apple & Microsoft Brand Strategies – What Do You Think?

Yesterday, Apple’s market capitalization eclipsed that of Microsoft. Their rivalry has fascinated me since I was old enough to geek. Apple has always been about control of the experience. Microsoft in its hey-day about control of the industry. Things they are a changing. So what about their brand brand strategies?

Brand Positioning: Microsoft
The Microsoft brand position has always been that of Number One – The market leader. This is a brand position that works for pathetic reasons. People want buy safe so buying from #1 seems like the safe choice. But Microsoft never channeled this dominance into a concrete brand position. They drank too much of their own cool aid and believed their solutions were more competitive than they really were. Being big has led them to being a big mush of meaning, being so many types of software, hardware, services, and systems they have no brand focus. What we here at Distility refer to as “over-branding”. As their dominance has waned, their brand position has deflated to the pathetic “I’m a PC” campaign.

Yes, their are some exceptions like the X-Box, but I’d argue that they essentially created a Masterbrand with X-Box, with “Microsoft” being treated as a lesser endorser brand. There’s a future in that.

What lies ahead for Microsoft as they succumb to second place? I see the Microsoft brand moving to the background so more focused brands like Zune, X-Box, and Windows can be accurately positioned vis-a-vis the competition.

Brand Positioning: Apple
My first Apple was the Mac 512/800. It was the easiest computer I’d ever used. That’s what made it different back then. Every Apple product I’ve used since then has maintained that dramatic difference. Steve Jobs knows the integral role that design can lead in brand differentiation. While they couldn’t be market leaders like Microsoft, Apple became the thought leaders with ease of use their weapon of choice. The “I’m a PC/Mac” campaign was the ultimate expression of that brand position.

Positioning is all about being positioned relative to a competitor, so what happens as the competition gets easy to use? Can Apple sustain this position indefinitely?

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Microsoft's Birthday card to Apple on its 30th...
Image by Brajeshwar via Flickr

Yesterday, Apple‘s market capitalization eclipsed that of Microsoft. Their rivalry has fascinated me since I was old enough to geek. Apple has always been about control of the experience. Microsoft in its hey-day about control of the industry. Things they are a changing. So what about their brand brand strategies?

Brand Positioning: Microsoft
The Microsoft brand position has always been that of Number One – The market leader. This is a brand position that works for pathetic reasons. People want buy safe so buying from #1 seems like the safe choice. But Microsoft never channeled this dominance into a concrete brand position. They drank too much of their own cool aid and believed their solutions were more competitive than they really were. Being big has led them to being a big mush of meaning, being so many types of software, hardware, services, and systems they have no brand focus. What we here at Distility refer to as “over-branding”. As their dominance has waned, their brand position has deflated to the pathetic “I’m a PC” campaign.

Yes, their are some exceptions like the X-Box, but I’d argue that they essentially created a Masterbrand with X-Box, with “Microsoft” being treated as a lesser endorser brand. There’s a future in that.

What lies ahead for Microsoft as they succumb to second place? I see the Microsoft brand moving to the background so more focused brands like Zune, X-Box, and Windows can be accurately positioned vis-a-vis the competition.

Brand Positioning: Apple
My first Apple was the Mac 512/800. It was the easiest computer I’d ever used. That’s what made it different back then. Every Apple product I’ve used since then has maintained that dramatic difference. Steve Jobs knows the integral role that design can lead in brand differentiation. While they couldn’t be market leaders like Microsoft, Apple became the thought leaders with ease of use their weapon of choice. The “I’m a PC/Mac” campaign was the ultimate expression of that brand position.

Positioning is all about being positioned relative to a competitor, so what happens as the competition gets easy to use? Can Apple  sustain this position indefinitely?
Leer más “The Apple & Microsoft Brand Strategies – What Do You Think?”

Brand Positioning Fundamentals – The Need

Understanding the customer’s needs usually goes awry because it seems so easy to do. You have a brand after all. You are passionate about using your brand to fix some problem. So you figure “the problem my brand fixes is their need.” This kind of thinking tends to create irrelevant positioning because you have assumed the customer’s needs, rather than authentically discovering them. Not only that, but you’ve probably also eliminated the competition from the equation with such a granular definition.


The classic brand positioning model we use here at Distility for 1day1brand. As well, we reviewed getting the target audience right. The Motorola Droid was used as our example to illustrate the key elements in a classic positioning statement which are:

1. Your target customer
2. Their need
3. Their frame of reference
4. Your dramatic difference(s)
5. Your reason(s) to believe

https://i1.wp.com/www.distility.com/Portals/62026/images//Positioning_Template.jpg
Leer más “Brand Positioning Fundamentals – The Need”

Brand Strategy and SEO: The Naming Dilemma

Brand has been an important business tool and concept for more than a century. Search engine optimization (SEO), on the other hand, has been a serious concern for scarcely a dozen years. So what’s the relationship between the two? This is a surprisingly deep question, so we’ll devote a number of blog posts to exploring it.

At one level, SEO and brand are closely related. Brand marketing can be seen as a way of attracting attention to your company that defines it in ways that are authentic and compelling. SEO can be defined as a way of attracting traffic to your web site based on compelling, relevant content. So those are complementary things, right? Good branding supports good SEO, and vice versa, it’s tempting to conclude.


A typical search engine results page
Image via Wikipedia

Brand has been an important business tool and concept for more than a century. Search engine optimization (SEO), on the other hand, has been a serious concern for scarcely a dozen years. So what’s the relationship between the two? This is a surprisingly deep question, so we’ll devote a number of blog posts to exploring it.

At one level, SEO and brand are closely related. Brand marketing can be seen as a way of attracting attention to your company that defines it in ways that are authentic and compelling. SEO can be defined as a way of attracting traffic to your web site based on compelling, relevant content. So those are complementary things, right? Good branding supports good SEO, and vice versa, it’s tempting to conclude. Leer más “Brand Strategy and SEO: The Naming Dilemma”

Positioning – Much Abused. How to Use.

The Trout & Ries model
Jack Trout and especially Al Reis were the big thinkers in the early days of branding. Reading the Reis book “The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding” was a milestone event in my development as a branding expert. But it was their collaboration, and the book “Positioning: The Battle for your Mind” that most influenced my techniques in the early days of running aXle Branding (now Distility).
Trout & Ries taught how positioning happens in the mind of the customer. That was key. They also explained brand categories. According to them, the customer can only remember a few rungs of the ladder for any brand category. So when s/he thinks smart phone, they think of the iPhone at #1, then Blackberry at #2, then a mess of other players at #3, #4, etc. To grossly simplify, Trout & Reis wrote about the critical nature of category leadership, and ways to “reposition” the #1 player, or become #1 by creating your own category or sub-category.


An animated pentakisdodecahedron
Image via Wikipedia
Sales Guy #1: So What’s Your Positioning?
Sales Guy #2: We’re a global leading manufacturer of rubber chickens.
Ouch. Poor Positioning. She is so misunderstood. Maybe even the most abused term in Marketing.
Here’s the bottom line. Positioning needs to be relative to something else. You don’t say “Position that rubber chicken on the table.” You say “Position that rubber chicken next to the whoopee cushion.”

Even when the term isn’t being abused, it doesn’t help that marketing experts have many different positioning methods and models. No wonder buying branding can be so frustrating.

How we separate the signal from the noise
Here at Distility we respect two schools of positioning. The first is the more classic definition. We call it “Market Positioning”. The best description of this type of positioning I’ve ever read is in “Kellogg on Branding” in the first chapter written by Alice m. Tybout and Brian Sternthal.
The key components in this model are: Leer más “Positioning – Much Abused. How to Use.”

A Call to Arms

But branding – the creation and development of brands – is still, as it is most often practiced, a complete and utter mess. Branding is more occult than voodoo, more expensive than yachting, and more dangerous than lawn darts. Branding is slower than rust, more frustrating than roadwork, and has a return on investment somewhat less measurable than prayer. Big agency-style branding is the product of a time when business moved slowly, budgets were big, and television was an exciting new medium. And do-it-yourself branding can be a grand adventure, like going for a drive in the country with no map and a quarter tank of gas.

But we know there is a better way. Branding can be fast and agile, keeping pace with today’s exhilarating speed of business


Branding is ill-defined, usually vacuous, often expensive and totally unpredictable Seth Godin in Seth’s Blog

Incomprehensible Voodoo – Guy Kawasaki in The Art of the Start

We are brand technologists. We love branding and believe in it. But we are here to say that branding is broken.

Why would we say this? Brands seem bigger than ever. Everywhere we look, we see brands. Brand talk has hit the mainstream. We talk about personal brands, political brands, national brands – everything is a brand and every schoolchild a brand expert. Leer más “A Call to Arms”

Brand Positioning Fundamentals – Point of Difference

Marketing amateurs believe that positioning is just about what makes a brand different. As I’ve explained in previous posts, it is far more. To recap, positioning done right, includes:… [Más…]

1. Your target customer
2. Their need
3. Their frame of reference
4. Your point of difference(s)
5. Your reason(s) to believe

Why is the point of difference so important? Because it is why a customer will chose to resolve their need with your promise instead of the competition’s.


https://i1.wp.com/www.distility.com/Portals/62026/images//Positioning_Template.jpg

Marketing amateurs believe that positioning is just about what makes a brand different. As I’ve explained in previous posts, it is far more. To recap, positioning done right, includes:… Leer más “Brand Positioning Fundamentals – Point of Difference”

The Fragmented Brand Strategy

This post is one in a series on our biggest brand strategy secret here at Distility: That most bad brands can be traced back to a failure of exploration, a failure of commitment or both.
This diagram sums up the way most brands go wrong, and what it takes to get to the holy grail of the authentic brand.


This post is one in a series on our biggest brand strategy secret here at Distility: That most bad brands can be traced back to a failure of exploration, a failure of commitment or both.
This diagram sums up the way most brands go wrong, and what it takes to get to the holy grail of the authentic brand.