yahoo brand strategy

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Yahoo has once again gone public with its strategy; this time Marissa Mayer announced it at a presentation to advertising buyers in NYC.  (I once accused Yahoo of having a lazy eye and must admit my view hasn’t changed too much, but I still believe Ms. Mayer is the right person for the job.  In a previous blog post I noted she may be on to something with a the germ of a brand idea, but yesterday may have dissuaded me.)

Yahoo needs to step up its original content game. And yesterday she acknowledged “premium content” as one leg of the stool.  The other two legs being: innovation and performance. I’ve heard innovation before – What technology company doesn’t use that one? –but performance is new. But you can also drive a truck through it.  At least she didn’t hang a brand plank on advertising. Last time out she talked about mobile, but I guess that falls under innovation. 

Every house has a foundation.  Every company needs a business strategy and a brand strategy. What I’ve found out in my years as a planner and consultant is that creating the brand strategy first is the best way to build a business strategy — because it’s built on customers and endemic business value.  There I’ve said it. Come get me Harvard Business Schoolies.

Yahoo is making money. Diddling around with mobile.  Promoting Ms. Mayers in lovely ways. But it still does not have a brand strategy. Ask Gareth Kay. Search this site for all posts on Yahoo if you would like to see the history of missteps.  Yahoo is pulling its nose up (aviation metaphor)…it just needs more time and a tight brand plan. Peace.

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On Sept 7, 2011 I predicted Carol Bartz, CEO of Yahoo! would be out within a year. It happened in July 2012. I’ve followed and blogged about Yahoo since the beginning of What’s the Idea? and was internet raised on Yahoo.  I want it to succeed, but it has been a messy go the last 5 years. Perhaps that is changing.

According to new CEO Marissa Mayer in an article from today’s New York Times, Yahoo’s top priority is to “Make the world’s daily habits inspiring and entertaining.”  I smell a brand strategy.

Over the years, Yahoo has had many leaders, many missions and many goals: Become the Internet starting point for the most consumers. Become a ‘must buy’ for the most advertisers. Become an open technology platform for developers.  Become an innovative content company. A mobile leader. And and and…

“Make the world’s habits inspiring and entertaining” is a brand strategy that has ballast.  Remember it’s not the creative, it’s a strategy. Support it with three endemic and meaningful brand planks and you have the start of something – a brand plan. 

I’m not going to parse the sentence yet and frankly a brand strategy with a conjunction (“and”) is a bit of a weasel, but the exciting keywords are: world, habits, daily, inspire, entertain.  Were I a Yahoo brand manager, CMO, or VP and if someone brought me a new mobile app or content idea, I could easily use this strategy as a litmus test for approval.  It’s still broad and in need of refinement but it’s a start. As my daughter used to say “I yike it!”  Peace.

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