brand diaspora

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I’ve written about the brand diaspora as it relates to Microsoft. Diaspora meaning “the spread or dissemination of something originally confined to a local, homogeneous group, as a language or cultural institution.” It’s a topic about which a very boring branding book could be written.

It will be very interesting to see how Amazon handles branding as it continues to take over the retail world. On Long Island, 52 A&P stores are being sold or closed. Wal-Mart earning have slowed, only being kept positive by international sales. Online commerce accounts for a growing portion of all things purchased and it’s not slowing down. Ask real estate sales people – count the brown paper covered windows in local strip malls.

En masse, retail is changing — and the winner is and will continue to be Amazon. Amazon is getting into the industrial distribution business. Hear that MSC Direct? Hear that Grainger? Do you think Mr. Bezos is not thinking about food distribution logistics? And ways to make locally sourced food products cheaper to purchase and deliver?

The future is not now. But one can see it in blurry focus…and Amazon will def be at its center. Plan ahead defenders.



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God forgive me but I’m going to disagree with Robert Scoble, my technology pundit hero. I do not think Microsoft should be split in two: one side about the enterprise and software, the other consumers and devices.  

Mr. Scoble’s logic, and it seems some Wall Street finaciers agree, suggests the business side is “crushing” it (thanks Techmeme), while the device business growing modestly at 4%. Split the company, they say, and let consumer people handle the devices and business people handle the enterprise. I say bullshit. Together there is way much more to learn. And business and marketing is all about learning. Together there will be tensions that are hurtful, yet hopefully transitional. Brothers and sisters argue but they care about the family. And if the tensions are insurmountable, there is always mother (CEO).

Microsoft has so much cash, so much penetration, and enough smart people that it can continue to innovate and make an occasional misstep.  Como se Kin?  And though Microsoft’s brand diaspora is a problem, it is getting better and is certainly fixable.  Mother?

Microsoft is a living organism. It feeds itself while feeding upon itself, yet it is still better as one. With all deference to Mr. Scoble and the financiers and lawyers, the latter motivated by a pay day, let’s not break apart the machine that is crushing it.


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Microsoft just announces its first ever quarterly loss; the function of an accounting move to write down the purchase of aQuantive, an ad serving company for which it overpaid and, perhaps, mismanaged.  But the story of the quarterly report points out a larger financial issue which one might debate is of questionable strategy.  In order to keep current PC sales moving, Microsoft has agreed to allow every new purchaser of a PC with Windows 7 a $14.99 upgrade to the soon-to-be released Windows 8 – an exciting new operating systems that will change the way PC users navigate their machines. Windows 8 is much more touchscreen-like and tile operated.

I understand that their relations with PC manufacturers is important, but I’ve never approved of this sort of pricing approach.  Before new model years, car sales do slow. You have to plan for that. As I’ve written before, Windows 8 should have been renamed Tiles and this mad break with the past celebrated. Like when Windows 3 was launched. Microsoft’s brand diaspora and product diaspora, has slowed growth.  This is one time, however, when the company should make a sharp cut and move on. Windows 8 is a very cool product.  Even the techie “grouchos” aren’t killing it. It’s time to take back the news cycle and move on from Windows.  Peace!  

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One of the fun things about having a blog is in predicting things that eventually come true. I predicted Google’s trivestiture a couple of years ago and that hasn’t happened. Yet. You can’t win them all. But my posts about Microsoft’s brand diaspora – the unfettered and uncontrolled creep of its brands, highlighted by use of the word “Live,” I’m excited to say, looks to be accurate.  Microsoft is retiring the word “Live.” Readers know I’m behind Microsoft making a flash-cut away from the word “Windows,” as in Windows 8, in favor of the word “Tiles,” but that’s not likely to happen soon. That’s because Windows is a repository for all other creeping sub-brands.  Windows is okay to keep alive for archiving purposes, but Windows 8 should be named Tiles as should the new mobile OS.  Tiles suggests the user paradigm shift much the way Windows did in the 90s.

A new CMO tasked with making things more efficient from a messaging standpoint might walk into Microsoft and on day one fire a bunch of brand names.  It would be hard medicine but the creep (verb) has really gotten out of hand. Retiring Live is a good move. Peace! 

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Microsoft Tiles

The more I see and hear about the Windows 8 Operating System by Microsoft, the more I realize Steven Sinofsky should have named it “Tiles.”   Language is a funny thing.  Market research is great, ideation is great but user ballast is greater.  We don’t really have the foresight sometimes to see the words the general population will adopt surrounding a product, so we try to force language on them.  But organic user language, the linguists will tell you, trumps marketing.

I believe in this name so completely, I predict it will be adopted by Microsoft and replace Windows as perhaps the most known brand names in technology. (And BTW, Stop Brand Diaspora!)

Short post. Big claim. Peace.

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Carol Bartz was let go yesterday and not a moment too soon.  A smart lady out of her element – she, a good enterprise tech blocker and tackler – Ms. Bartz in the near term will be replaced by an army of herself.  An army of bankers and financial advisors that will chase the numbers — chase and plot the lines of business.  An army that will evaluate global growth, sales, competitors whiles using Wall Street formulas to predict market capitalization.  Not one Carol, 20 Carols.  And while this is happening the call will go out to high level search firms and tech recruiters.  The board of directors, headed by adman Roy Bostock, will do some trail covering and soul searching and become a story in and of itself. This is how we do-oo it.

But what needs to be done here, as well, is a brand audit and a brand plan. A brand plan is an operating principle guided by consumer needs…delivered in the form of the product experience, marketing and messaging. People think a brand plan is about messaging alone and they are wrong.   

All the financial work the numbers consultants will do is important. The CEO hire is important, but what Yahoo IS and what Yahoo DOES (for consumers) is more important. This is called the Is-Does.  Right now Yahoo IS a Portal. And what it DOES is serve web pages.  Yahoo wants to be an innovative content company, but hasn’t delivered.  If consumers can’t pass the Is-Does test, it’s a fail.  Right now Yahoo’s Is is weak. And the Does doesn’t.

My prediction:  in 12 months there will be a new CEO, a new logo, a new campaign (Yahoo would be smart to keep ad shop Goodby), and no brand plan.  Brand diaspora, brand diffusion is what kills great companies.  Stop the madness. Peace!

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