Badly Branded

Novell knew how to murder brands.

A recent lunch with a long-term friend and SuSE Linux leader reminded me of the problems faced with messaging and branding in both commodity and fragmented markets. Linux is a commodity, and was intended to be such. The lack of differentiation in the core product was Linux’s primary selling point to shops that stayed stuck on one or another UNIX derivative or even proprietary operating systems. Creating unique brands for commodities can be tough, though we did have success with SuSE’s brand before Novell diluted it.

The Linux market is becoming even trickier as advances in deployment and scalability expand. Today’s global content start-ups are rushing to EC2, RackSpace and RightScale in order to avoid growing pains while chanting hadoop and nosql. Less data-intensive operations use traditional clustering or stand-alone servers. Some people need real-time Linux, and a few folk want stripped-down distros for shipping their own appliances.

Tough to bridge a brand across all of the above.

segment-brands-350wMulti-segment messaging and branding is difficult, but has an elegant angle. Marketers need to know that each segment and whole product may well need its own brand, and thus its own messaging, promotion and budget. Yet CMOs must document the product line brand and enforce it company wide. The secret in brand, message and value proposition alignment across all segments is to find the intersections. For each of the aforementioned elements, there is overlap. One or more items that are important in segment #1 are also important in segments #2, #3 and #infinity. Your global brand, headline and homepage value proposition as well as lead message should always be where there is unity across segments (click to enlarge graphic).

Only when there are no (or very disjointed) commonalities should you break brands apart. But that is a different topic for a different day. For now know that if you are vending into multiple segments and are not tying together the common value/message/brand elements, then you have no broad brand, which is a Bad Thing.


Speak up! What are your thoughts?

Your email address will not be published.