Mircosoft goes back to the future with renewed focus on productivity

It took a while, but slowly but surely Microsoft is becoming the company that truly stands for productivity.

Microsoft is going to make real strides in translating the brand into products and propositions and become again the company that stands for productivity; exactly as we came to know it.

After all, productivity is where the brand started for the masses. Think of the IBM PC with MS-DOS, first used in the business environment.

With the introduction of Windows and Office, it was, of course, completely clear: the combination in the workplace and synonyms for productivity.

Even the competition recognized this positioning. Apple made some jokes about PCs and PC users in its Mac vs PC ad, but deep down it was a character sketch of creative versus productive. This is also exactly the difference between the Office Suite and the Apple iWork Suite. One is focused on productivity, the other primarily on creativity.

Now it is clear again to Microsoft itself what the core of the company is. In an email, ceo Satya Nadella says that “at our core, Microsoft is the productivity and platform company for the mobile-first and cloud-first world. We will reinvent productivity to empower every person and every organization on the planet to do more and achieve more.’

The recent repositioning of the Surface tablets towards productivity is already a great example. In 2012, the Surface was launched as ‘a laptop in a tablet form’. Very inconvenient when the obvious trend is that the number of laptops is decreasing. In addition, the Surface had all sorts of problems such as a sky-high price (nota bene more expensive than a laptop with touch), moderate battery consumption and lack of applications. Due to its unclear positioning, the Surface was compared unfavorably to iPad, the #1 in the tablet category.

The new Surface website now provides more clarity. A translation of the brand into propositions is visible. I read ‘Surface – the most productive tablets on the world’. Of course this could have been even sharper, for example ‘Surface – the first tablet focused on productivity’ with a headline like ‘finally, a tablet that can replace your laptop’. But the beginning is there.

Now that Microsoft’s core is crystal clear, it needs to make a clear choice and then, of course, go for it. The recent news of 18,000 job cuts will certainly contribute to this. For example, how does the Xbox gaming platform fit with productivity? How does Nokia phones’ focus on their photographic capabilities fit with productivity?

If the brand is truly providing direction, then the character or values of the brand can be used as a compass. Creating and executing branded products & propositions then becomes easier. And consumers understand exactly what you do and-importantly-how you make a difference.

This article was published in Adformatie (Dutch).

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