Tag Archives: Case

Segway – a brand that failed to take a position

Segway is a brand that failed to take a position and communicate clearly the What of the brand.

According to Wikipedia, Segway is ‘a two-wheeled, self-balancing personal transporter’ .  The problem is apparent: it is not possible to relate Segway to anything we know. Until a brand can be related to something people know, the brand keeps drifting in the brain – trying to find a category to ground itself.

Below is the hompage from March 2002. Segway is welcoming visitors to ” the evolution in mobility” without explaining What the  product is.

 

When diving into the “Segway HT” section the focus is on communication what the product does “Human Transporter” and the benefits “that functions like an extension of you”.  Also on this page it is still unclear what the Segway exactly is. Human Transporter comes close, but nobody would say “hey, can you get my human transporter?”

 

After almost 20 years of trying to convince people to buy a Segway, the company decided in June 2020 to stop making the product. FastCompany wrote, ‘Exclusive: Segway, the most hyped invention since the Macintosh, ends production’.

The expectations at launch were enormous :

‘Its inventor, Dean Kamen, famously predicted in a 2001 Time magazine interview that the Segway ‘will be to the car what the car was to the horse and buggy.’ In the same story, venture capitalist John Doerr predicted the company would be the fastest ever to reach $1 billion in sales.’

Unfortunately the company failed to create a clear need by explaining the What of Segway. Those who bought Segway would likely not refer to it as the ‘human transporter’, ‘personal transporter’, or the ‘two-wheeled self-balancing personal transporter’.

What Segway could have done is to stay closer to what people already knew and were familiar with at the time of launch. Explore a variation of the scooter category, promote the What and create a need by showing how people benefit from the new category and with that, the Segway.



This article is  from the book Win With What – the first category-led growth book for anyone who wants their business to thrive and survive.

Get your preview at WinWithWhat.com

 

 

Be careful when leaving the brand core – case Fujifilm

Fujifilm – a personal brand favorite of mine –  recently launched a new product line of cameras seen as Sony copy cats. Is that a good or a bad thing? While I realize not all of my readers are digital camera photography enthusiasts, the lessons in this article are applicable to any industry.

In his brilliant book Innovating Out of Crisis: How Fujifilm Survived (and Thrived) As Its Core Business Was Vanishing, Shigetaka Komori, the CEO who brought Fujifilm back from the brink explains how he engineered the transformative organizational innovation and product diversification of Fujifilm. It really is an amazing story.

The key principle during this process of organizational engineering was that Fujifilm remained true to its roots.  The mission of Fujifilm remained that of Preserving and Sustaining the Culture of Photography.

This result of this mission can be found in the design of the Digital Imaging products of Fujifilm. Fujifilm understood there are a couple of ingredients to a valuable imaging brand: lens, sensor, processor *and* connecting to the heritage of photography.

In the case of Fujifilm, this translated itself to the creation of cameras with a  distinct vintage look, with the same dials and buttons and the original Fujifilm. And very important, simulations of original Fujifilm analog films are built-in the camera.

Fujifilm. X100V, a vintage looking camera

 

The result: a huge fanbase of Fujifilm camera enthusiasts combined with a distinct positioning. Fujifilm Is the only “film” brand that made -without any doubt- the transition to digital! 

So far… so good!

But something happens to every focused brand: the need to expand or extend. In the case of Fujifilm, they decided to copycat their biggest competitor: Sony.

And with it, Fujifilm launches a new “S” product line, the first product being the S10. Gone is the retro look, gone are the dedicated buttons, gone is that vintage photography feeling Fuji brand advocates love so much.

Fujifilm X-S10 – the Sony copy, no more vintage

 

The Fujifilm site “Fujirumors” calls it exactly what it is The Vintage Departure.  And that is not a good thing.

Of course, Fujifilm will attract some new buyers, but while doing so it loses in being the distinct photography brand. In other words, all the carefully build up brand equity will get a hit.

And, perhaps easy to forget, but if buyers would have wanted a Sony, they would have purchased a Sony to start with. Nobody likes to have the copy, it gives the impression you would not be able to get the real thing.

The same would be for Sony. If Sony would make cameras looking like Fujifilm it might attract of course some people, but those who really go for the Fuji look, feel and operations will come to Fujifilm.

Think about it, do you rather drink Coca-Cola or a “supermarket own brand” version? Do you rather drive a Tesla or the Mercedes-Benz electric car?

My prediction is that the new Fujifilm S line will be one of short term gain and a long term pain. The better move would have been to invest in new and innovative ways to stick to the core and preserve, sustain, and expand the culture of photography.