Galaxy Note 7 fire hazard disaster

Galaxy Note 7 fire hazardThe Samsung Galaxy Note 7 recall because of the Galaxy Note 7 fire hazard has me thinking. What if any long term effect could this Galaxy Note 7 fire hazard have on the BRAND of Samsung?

Sure an exploding or smoldering smart phone is not a product feature in even the most optimistic consumer’s mind. But could this product recall seriously and permanently damage this mega-brand consumer products company?

In a word. Maybe.

Brands have meaning to consumers and great brands have great emotional meaning to customers. They associate with that brand meaning and, because that association should be about the customer and not the product, it becomes personal.

Galaxy Note 7 fire hazardNike has a premier consumer product position, not because it makes the best athletic shoes, but because Nike means the wearer feels like a winner. It’s the Nike promise that you should just do it. Forget the distractions. Keep focused because YOU are a winner for choosing Nike (read about the NIKE brand here). That is the power of BRAND.

I am trying to think about Samsung. What does the brand MEAN? Does the Galaxy Note 7 fire hazard in any way damage that association? I think it does and here is why.

Samsung is the largest electronics company in South Korea. It makes quality products and has infiltrated almost every category of consumer electronics. But it has a very poorly defined brand promise.

Galaxy Note 7 fire hazardLacking that emotional connection, it has allowed the consumer to position it as a value brand. That means Samsung is lower priced than the competition but are generally well made and dependable.

It might not be fair to dis Samsung as lacking in innovation but I think the market does not view it as being an innovator in any way. It is a fast follower, often copying the market leader’s products with a slightly cheaper (value) positioning.

This model has allowed them to steal the thunder from many storied brands. Take Son (Read about the Sony brands here) for instance. Its Trinitron TV brand reinvented the category.

Sony even led the way in flat screen innovation. But Samsung copied those products and dared to make side by side comparisons of product features — all with a value twist. The result? Growth in market share.

Galaxy Note 7 fire hazard has reshaped the smart phone pecking order

Same is true with the smart phone. Everyone knows the category was invented by Apple. Even the courts backed up that statement. Samsung entered the category with a cheaper reproduction and an nearly all-open sourced operating system. Side-by-side comparisons with the iPhone showed similar capabilities at about 50% of the cost.

Galaxy Note 7 fire hazardBut the Galaxy Note 7 fire hazard has undone much of that value cache. The great enemy of value brands is an underlying and almost universal human belief that, at the end of the day, you ALWAYS get what you pay for.

Customers who invest their emotional soul to value brands sit around waiting for the shoe to drop and hoping it does not. Want proof? Ask Value Jet.(Read about the fire that burned up an airline here: ValueJet). A failure by a low cost provider can be fatal to the brand.

Galaxy Note 7 fire hazardI worry that all the problems and bad press over the Galaxy Note 7 fire hazard feels like the shoe has dropped. (You are reminded of it every time you fly on a US passenger airline because they warn you before boarding that, having a Samsung Galaxy Note 7 turned on or charging, is forbidden because of the recall.)

To survive, Samsung might have to double down on its value proposition and make the risk worth the reward by gutting its profit margins.

Or it could call us and we could help them create a REAL brand that incorporates brand repair with a new juggernaut of meaning. Samsung won’t call however. It thinks brand is a logo and name. But there is no need to change either. There is a need to change the meaning.

Verizon’s purchase of Yahoo makes little sense

My first question upon hearing that Verizon is paying $4.8 billion to buy Yahoo was: Why would Verizon do that?

Yahoo has been a declining brand for some years. In the 90s, it was the search engine and counted millions among those who had an email address with the tech company. It won its battle with AOL and its future was bright.

The price may be cheap, but I don’t know what Verizon is getting from Yahoo.

But Yahoo never evolved after Google entered the market and took over so overwhelmingly that google is now a verb.

A better way to judge Yahoo’s downfall is to remember that Microsoft was willing to pay $45 billion for it just nine years ago. The $4.8 billion Verizon just ponied up is chicken feed in comparison.

The strategic purpose of buying Yahoo

Verizon’s overall strategy is to become a larger technology and media company rather than just a mobile carrier. It wants to count Google, Time Warner and Amazon as its competitors. Its recent purchases of AOL and the Huffington Post prove that. But it has an overall strategy that has yet to come to true fruition.

So why Yahoo? I suppose Verizon wants access to its one billion users. But AOL once boasted of those kinds of numbers. As we learned, those AOL customers were basically empty ones as they sported AOL email addresses they never used. Yahoo did buy Tumblr and brought in Katie Couric to be some sort of news anchor, for what it’s worth.

But it has been a brand without purpose. All that mishmash of what it had didn’t add up to a satisfying whole. It was a collection of disconnected parts.

Part of the reason why I wonder why Verizon would buy Yahoo is that, so far, Verizon’s collection also seems jumbled. What is Verizon going to become?

I suppose we should let this play out and see what Verizon will emerge as. But it worries me when companies grow through acquisition and not organically.

Verizon needs to come up with a brand promise that unites all its offerings. That was the problem Yahoo always had. No one could state what how its users were different than any other kind of user. It had no unifying brand.

If Verizon wants to make some sense of what it will become, then it needs to re-examine its brand. Because, right now, it doesn’t have one that will impact the market the way it should and buying companies like Yahoo don’t fix the problem.

Branding Telecom – Effective Ways To Grow Market share

How To Grow Market Share

By Tom Dougherty

Telecom as an example

Grow market share chartHow do we grow market share in telecommunications? The answer is interesting and telling in today’s competitive telecom advertising and marketing climate. It can be paralleled in research on learning disabilities and can provide a great barometer for making preliminary judgments about how effective one creative execution might be as opposed to another. Let’s start with the basics. All effective telecom advertising has as its root, a strong strategic message.

To be considered as great, and to have a chance at stealing share in the telecommunications segment, advertising must convey a sense of market positioning, reinforce the telecom brand, identify a target audience, and speak to them in terms of product or brand benefit.

In print executions (though the same basic principles hold true in broadcast) we need to have the correct message and we need to ensure that the message is read and read by the correct consumer. If every agency actually owns these abilities and telecom experience (and all do at some time or other), why choose one over another? If every agency can consistently deliver a great creative execution, why do some telecommunications campaigns fail to produce the desired share-stealing and increases in market share?

The Answer

The answer can be found in research on Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and the training of people suffering from the learning disorder, dyslexia. It is in the evaluation and understanding of how people “learn” that some light is finally shed.

Testing Recall

When a telecommunications company tests advertising for “day-after recall” they are looking to see how well a core telecom marketing message is remembered some time after viewing. They are asking for recall. Now, recall differs from “remembering” because it is not a cognitive process. Recall happens without thinking, a memory requires thinking. For example, if I ask, “What comes to mind when I say Coca-Cola?” your answer might be “soda,” “The Real Thing,” “Pepsi,” or value judgments like “like it” or “never drink it.”

Grow market share is about recall

For most researchers, these statements are marked down, recorded and tabulated. Later they are evaluated against the strategy to see if the advertising achieved what it was intended to achieve. This is all well and good. However, there is one problem. For the most part, telecommunications advertisers overlook just exactly what is recalled and focus on “what is remembered.”

No matter what you might remember about Coke, the first non-cognitive flash of memory was a visual picture of the product itself. Odds are it was a quick vision of the “familiar red can” or the trademark bottle. The other memories were then retrieved cognitively and added to that flash memory.

Great telecom advertising is advertising that is able to make the telecommunications brand association visual. In special education, the association learning method has been used successfully for years as teachers taught those with learning disabilities. In order to compensate, they are taught to use pictures as a means of organizing their thoughts, knowledge, and memories. As it turns out, this is exactly how we all learn. (Read a market study on the telecom industry here)

How We Learn

Human beings learn by associating. Anything they already know can be linked to a new thought, idea, or image. Traditional memory is always linear. If you can make an association with something you already know, you can use that “picture” to help you recall the new information. It turns out that what we actually recall is the association and not the memory itself.

How we learn and its effect on how you Grow market share
How do we learn?

We can use our recall to trigger a memory, but we need to tie the image it invokes to what it is we are recalling. Association turns out to be similar to a spreadsheet. It is not necessary to remember what is located in box A-1, but that you must look into box A-1 to find it.

Flash memory recall is your mind retrieving an image from a location, rather than remembering a particular meaning. It follows that all great (effective) telecom advertising is visual in nature. This does not mean that great print advertising cannot be all copy.

Rather it means that the copy must be designed to create a visual image in your head in the same way that great radio does. If it is designed to generate recall, then the image produced needs to be tied into an existing association so that the mind can “find” it again.

When branding telecommunications, evaluating or creating telecommunications advertising designed to steal share and work even if outspent, always ask yourself if the TOTALITY of the telecom ad (or commercial) elicits an emotional “photograph” in your head. If it does, and the message is right, the target audience identified, and the positioning and benefit compelling enough, you can be relatively sure that the telecommunications brand message will be recalled. If it’s recalled, it becomes part of the consumer’s identity and life. It is that simple.

Advertising on Mobile Phones: Get Permission First

Mobile Marketing

This is an article written a while back that still has resonance despite acquisitions and mergers. Alltel is gone a a separate entity but the rules of permission still applies

By Tom Dougherty

The mobile phone industry is at a key point in its history. The relatively recent integration of video and music and data and social networking into cell phones has been an exciting development – and they point to even greater opportunity for both carriers and consumers. What about Ads on Mobile devices? Do the ads create connection or ruin brand permissions?

Mobile Advertising. Targeted Advertising?

Mobil advertising can be very intrusive
Ads on our mobile devices seem more personal

One of the opportunities being discussed is the potential for targeted advertising that directly addresses the customer’s needs. Marketers have been salivating for this in an era when DVRs and Internet streaming video have taken up a huge chunk of today’s programming and often leaving advertising in the dust.

A recent report in Telephony listed the upcoming technologies that may help advertisers use mobile devices to reach audiences marketers are otherwise losing. But there’s a problem: Users will most likely reject it because no provider has developed a brand that gives it permission from users to infiltrate their phones with ads that will be perceived as intrusive. It will especially seem intrusive as you can feel the shift moving from providers having control to users having control. We are in the iPod, YouTube generation, which has given control to the consumer.

The Film Industry

For example, the film industry has been making serious changes to its business model as DVDs and the Internet are doing more than just supplementing its theatre business. Viewers now can choose their own system to watch movies because they have control over when they watch it, how much they watch in one sitting and in which environment they view them. The hurdle for going to the movies more and more is that the movie theaters decide when you can watch it, that you can only watch it in one sitting and in which environment you see them. Consumers are taking greater control of that experience, which is why the movie business is evolving rapidly.

The wireless phone industry needs to think of its customers in the same way, as giving them the control to select advertising beyond the ability to check email, watch videos, take pictures and listen to music. While the industry figures out marketing technologies such as taking pictures of local ads from a phone’s camera to gain more information to inserting ad breaks into videos or when dialing a number, the first step is building a brand that gives you permission from the user to do all those things. Does this feel different for mobile advertising?

Mobil advertising targeting has great promise
Targeting is not the whole game

A Brand with Meaning Might have Permission to Run Mobile Advertising

A brand with meaning for consumers – especially one focused on control – gives the wireless provider permission because customers search you out and become loyal to that brand. They see themselves in it. Why do we buy the laundry detergent we do? Most of us have not tested the products and discovered which one is best.

Instead, most of us prefer a brand because there is something in that brand that says something about us when we use it, even if it’s something we are not aware of. In thinking of mobile phone users, marketers need to uncover whom the customer wants to be when they use that brand: They are in control, even when being subjected to ads. The carrier with a “brand face” that enables the target audience to see a reflection of their own face – faces they identify with, wish to be and, in fact, feel incomplete without becoming – will win. Let’s take a look at what some of the brands are doing and whether they are promoting an effective brand face that says something about the user when they use that brand – and rate how close they are to getting permission from the consumer:

1. AT&T Wireless had been heavily running a series of TV spots that feature calls being dropped, leaving one member of the conversation exceedingly embarrassed. These ads are certainly funny, but they are marketing as entertainment with very little meaning. They don’t say anything about who the user is when they use that brand other than they have “fewer dropped calls” and won’t be embarrassed. Talk about a defensive strategy. This brand does not allow Cingular permission to sell advertising on its network.

2. Verizon: A carrier with a good reputation for quality service has built its brand on just that by running a campaign focused on Verizon customers having mass support. The ads often feature a Verizon customer who has a crowd of people following him or her around, with the tagline, “It’s the network.”

Like AT&T, however, this is featuring a service and a table stake, what you need to have to even play in the game. Without good support, can you even be a quality wireless carrier? It’s like promoting that you provide phone service. The chances of gaining permission to advertise by Verizon customers are small, although slightly greater than those with Cingular.

Mobile advertising is fast becoming the norm
AT&T and Verizon Dominate Mobil

But being “cool” may not be enough. Having the control over advertising and being cool may be linked, but as it stands now they could be diametrically opposed. Alltel needs to peel back the layer and uncover how does controlling ad content become a component of being cool. Does part of being “cool,” mean you’re in control? Those are the questions brands like Alltel need to ask themselves, especially as they head into a new world where more content, greater technology and targeted marketing enters our mobile worlds from a variety of platforms. (We haven’t even touched on the iPhone and its partnership with AT&T.) Otherwise, customers are going to reject advertising on their devices because right now they are firmly in control of them. The carrier that develops a brand that gains permission from its customers to advertise will take most advantage of this opportunity.


(Read a market study on the telephony industry here)