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 Wireless not that different

Verizon Wireless has launched a new campaign with Ricky Gervais called A Better Network.

I initially saw these ads a few weeks ago and remember thinking that television advertising can’t have fallen this far. So I wanted to mull them over a bit and see the two ads a couple more times. I was hoping my initial take was wrong or that it would confirm Verizon has completely lost its mind.

Sadly to say, it is the latter.

First off, I like Ricky Gervais as a comedian. But, in these terribly written ads, he comes off quite the opposite. There is no humor. So why hire him? Secondly, the ads criticize other provider’s claims (mainly Sprint) saying, “Some of them stretch the truth” when the ad itself does the same thing when discussing the services from Verizon Wireless. Rather than say fastest, it claims “consistently fast” across the US. What does that even mean?

Is Verizon the same speed in LA as it is in Spokane? Consistently fast is subjective and mirrors what the competition has said. I certainly like a brand calling out BS on a competitor. But not when its claims are the same.

The bottom line with Verizon Wireless.

Verizon Wireless is talking out of both sides of its mouth, truly believing that it is somehow offering wireless customers a reason to choose that is different than the competition. Yet, it is saying the EXACT same thing that its competitors are. Maybe it is being shady to protect its market share.

Like many other industries, the brands in the wireless business are trying anything to differentiate themselves from one another. They truly do not get that, to be meaningful, they must be a reflection of their customers and those they wish to influence. From these ads, it just looks like Verizon Wireless is trying to be a reflection of itself and its competitors.

Apple botch with watch OS 2 looks bad

As I have made blatantly aware for years, I’m a freak for Apple. Part of my freakiness is that I wait the release of a new system update as eagerly as a child waiting for presents on Christmas morning.

OS9, which came out while I was away on a family trip to Ireland, did not elude my iPhone and iPad. I managed to stay up and install the program, even though it came late in the evening, with a few pints of Guinness in my system.

Like I said, I am a bit of a freak when it comes to this stuff and I hold no shame in admitting it.

The OS 2 update may be damaging.
The OS 2 update may be damaging.

That said, I am dissatisfied with Apple’s latest presentation of software. While I have yet to buy an Apple Watch, the delay in releasing the coveted Watch OS 2 interface due to a found bug in the system quite simply looks bad.

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

Benjamin Franklin said that, and he is right.

Thoughts like: “Didn’t Apple already have enough time to find a bug in the watch OS 2 software?” and “Maybe the interface is just being rushed out to the masses” linger prominently in the back of my mind.

When you are at the top, you don’t have the room to fail and look less than great in public. Your brand will quickly take a shellacking. Ask Tiger Woods about that, Paula Deen or Mel Gibson. The pundits are always ready to cast a cold eye.

OS 2 Delay speaks loudly

And so, while the Watch OS 2 interface delay was nominal error, it does present a sense of ill-preparedness by Apple. And those precepts can quickly tarnish a brand’s reputation if mistakes like this continue. And while the release finally came yesterday to the public, that was several days too long.

Sprint (and others) go the way of a pizza

Cell phone carriers are going the way of the pizza. OK, just follow me here.

As we’ve noted numerous times, the major pizza outlets have left brand behind to simply play on price. They have taught consumers that, when they call for a delivery, the first question to ask is: “What’s today’s deal?”

The same could be said for the cell phone carriers, who have dwindled their brands down to simply what kind of deal I can get today. It’s not a perfect analogy (they never are), but Pizza Hut, Domino’s and Papa John’s dominate the pizza market, while AT&T, Verizon and Sprint are basically the only cell phone carriers left. (T-Mobile is still around but rumors persist that it will merge with Sprint soon.)

Just like shopping for a sausage pizza.
Just like shopping for a sausage pizza.

To lure in new customers, Sprint is now offering Verizon and AT&T users to cut their rate plans in half if they come over the Sprint side. It turns out the deal isn’t as great as it sounds (more on that later), but to the consumer it looks like it’s another daily deal. If it wasn’t for the contracts (although Sprint will pay up to $350 per line in your termination fees), consumers could just do what we do when ordering pizza does. Just call and ask, “What’s today’s deal?”

The problem with this approach (basically buying market share) is that it is so temporary and it doesn’t create preference. You just have a bunch of bargain shoppers who leave you just as quickly as they came to you in the first place.

Sprint isn’t the only one. AT&T is offering a $150 bill credit when you sign up. Verizon is doing exactly the same thing. Some smart app developer could just produce an app that tells you who has the best deal this month and you could change back & forth, saving money and even keeping the same phone number.

This is craziness, only made worse by the fact the deals aren’t all they are cracked up to be. In the Sprint deal, if you are part of a family plan, then the entire family has to sign up and you must still buy a new phone from Sprint.

There is a better way, of course. Verizon, AT&T and Sprint should focus on the emotional drivers for cell phone users that will enable them to keep customers (and attract new ones) without having to discount everything. (Think of what Apple has done with the iPhone.)

Pretty soon, we’re just gonna order up a new plan each weekend like ordering a pepperoni pizza.

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.