Uber’s Image

An ounce of image is worth a pound of performance. Uber’s image has taken a beating. A shellacking. A bloody thumping. And it started long ago. I’m one of the few humans who finds nothing to like about Las Vegas. But when I’m reluctantly in town, I use Lyft to shuttle around. Upon occasion, the Lyft driver will also have an Uber sticker in the windshield. I always ask them who they like working with better, and why. In a word, they think Uber is a hard-nosed, cheap outfit, difficult to work with. Okay, that was more than a word – but their dislike for Uber is palpable. In fact, they would rather drive for Lyft but they still bow to Uber’s market dominance. Which is fading. Where did Uber’s bad reputation begin? It appears to have started at the top, where all corporate culture begins. From there, the next … Continue reading

Trust Me. I’m In Marketing.

Trust isn’t what it used to be, because there isn’t much left. A report by Richard Edelman surveys people from countries around the globe to see who they trusted or not. Trust in government is low, but then again no sane person really trusts that much concentrated power. Trust in the media has plummeted as alleged journalists have removed their masks to expose their unmade partisan and ideological faces. Only businesses and NGOs (non-governmental organizations) score above the 50% mark, and they do so with no margin for error. Who the heck is this Trust fellow? All relationships are built on trust. If you don’t believe that, go buy a candy bar and think about the layers of trust incorporated in a simple purchase. You trust the maker of the candy bar not to poison you, which means you trust their trust in agricultural and chemical suppliers. You trust the … Continue reading

Believe This

Try forcing a stranger to believe something they have never heard of before, or to abandon a belief they have held for years. Odds are you will fail at both. “Belief” is understanding without knowledge, facts or proof. Yet humans have many complex belief systems firmly rooted in air. This is not inherently bad. Beliefs guide actions, and if beliefs are noble, then good things occur. But beliefs are also firmly rooted in the mind – trying to uproot beliefs (at least in the short term) is like trying to pull a redwood tree out of the ground with your bare hands. Belief systems are important to humans and to marketers. For humans, belief systems are shortcuts to understanding life, the universe and everything. The belief doesn’t even have to be correct as long as it provides a person with a grasp on their perception of reality. This is one … Continue reading

Computers vs Congress

Apple and McDonalds are doing far better than Congress and insurance companies. Gallup poll last summer gathered public perceptions of various industries and agencies, and asked people to score them as either generally positive or negative. All the sectors that scored positive were in the private sector, with even airlines and banks scooting in under the wire. Every government sector and a few industries closely intertwined with federal protections and regulations scored underwater. This isn’t to say that everything government touches is lousy. That’s just the way people perceive it. In all exchanges – voluntary or otherwise – value is largely based on the desirability of the outcome versus the cost. If the cost is zero, nobody expects much and nobody cares about the brand. If it cost a bundle – be it an iPhone or the IRS – people either see great value and award a great brand score … Continue reading

Perception is Reality

“Imagination is the one weapon in the war against reality.” — Jules de Gaultier Marketers deal in perception. Great marketers meld perception and reality. The fact is that people perceive what they want to believe. This explains much about politics, religion and brand loyalty. People perceive value in things – concepts, communities, tribes, brands – and either admire or despise them accordingly. A lot of money has been made by creating a brand and charging people for the brand as opposed to the product. You can spend $3,500 for a Saint Laurent handbag which has a manufacturing cost of maybe $10, holds no more than a Walmart handbag, and arguably is a sterile design devoid of individualism. And many people do. One of marketing’s jobs is to decide on the perception the public should have of a product or a brand. This is driven largely by the target audiences and … Continue reading

Branding Soup

soups - comparative packaging of Dole and O-Organics

I discovered a lesson in brand management at the local supermarket. While cruising an aisle I spotted two boxes of the same style of soup and was instantly and viscerally struck by how appetizing one was and the other wasn’t. Also immediately noticeable was a brand conflict that detracted from the weaker packaging in a rather astounding way. Combined, some rapid education in brand management was presented to everyone buying groceries that day. First, allow me to repeat Silicon Strategies Marketing’s [heavily copyrighted] definition of branding. It is the process of “making the market think and feel what you want them to think and feel about your product or company”. A soup maker would primarily want to make customers think their soup is tasty, and perhaps secondarily that it is wholesome and healthy. There may be subsidiary brand elements, but these two are pretty essential. Here we have soups by … Continue reading

Branding Positions

Branding and positioning during the bowling alley effect

“Branding is making the market think and feel what you want them to think and feel about you and your products.”© We are currently mentoring a London client as they work through their go-to-market strategy. Ground-up strategy development is not a simple process even for well-defined markets. These chaps are in an early adopter arena, and likely in a specific niche. Knowing their product category has been a challenge as even the analyst groups have not yet bothered to classify the space our client is staking out. Yet they are already mapping their next segments to achieve the Bowling Alley effect described in Crossing The Chasm. This situation has brought their branding mission to the fore because of the difficulty of branding a product in an undefined space, and branding it for a larger set of market segments. In a word … messy. As you no doubt recall, market dominance … Continue reading