Now we start our journey through the 7 P’s of Marketing. The first of the elements to examine is Product. This is the core of any offering. It is also the place that potentially the largest Branding mistake of all time comes from.
Let me start with an example from my career. When I started at Advanced Fibre Communications (AFC), we primarily served the smallest of Telephone Companies in the US. We built our company in such a way to serve this market. Many functions contributed, the UMC-1000 itself was designed to serve these customers well. I have written about this before HERE. In fact, some of these same capabilities were a problem for the largest of the Telephone Companies. I described this HERE.
So, you can see already that we had built our Brand as one that served smaller customers in the US. We did this through the execution of our product. This allowed AFC to obtain a huge market share within that customer base. However, this also limited our ability to sell to larger customers. Other companies have followed that same model since that time. But I hope it is evident that our Logo did not set the standard for this, it was the way we built our Product and Business. The early customers were attached to the company in such a way that they did not call the product the UMC or UMC-1000. They would just call it “The AFC”.
This kind of execution led to the market share and profitability which funded later expansion.
But one need look no further than Product to see the largest Branding disaster of all time: “New Coke”. If you are young but you may not remember this. Coke and Pepsi had been fighting the Cola Wars for decades. With Coke changing its formula, the folks at Pepsi were able to state that Coke had essentially surrendered to the better product by trying to copy it. The idea may have been interesting, but there were a lot better ways to execute it as a business. There has been a lot written about this, if you just Google it you will find all kinds of information about this event.
I thought it might be interesting to put out a more interesting example: the Porsche 914. Porsche is a high end performance brand. It worked with Volkswagen to build an entry level model. VW was best know for the original Beetle model. Consumers knew this and found it confusing that the entry level car company was working with a performance car company. The 914 was never to be confused with the performance models and thus diluted the value. On the other hand, the 914 allowed more people to own a Porsche than ever before. So, you could see this as a potentially mixed experience. In the long term, there has been no damage nor any benefit to the Brand. But it is something to think about seriously.
If I use just that last example, think of the marketing implications. If you are an owner of say a Porsche 911, do you really want to have the name associated with the VW Beetle? Porsche owners were interested in the racing heritage of the Brand. Before you dilute your product offering, think on this question.
Have a great week!
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