Tag Archives: Positioning

Coca-Cola’s “Taste the Feeling” slogan does not differentiate

Marking a significant shift in its marketing strategy, Coca-Cola  announced on Jan 19 that for the first time, all Coke Trademark brands will be united in one global creative campaign: “Taste the Feeling.”

Chief Marketing Officer Marcos de Quinto says that “The bigness of Coca-Cola resides in the fact that it’s a simple pleasure – so the humbler we are, the bigger we are. We want to help remind people why they love the product as much as they love the brand.”

Rudolf Echeveria the VP of global creative, connections and digital, adds “we’re going from ‘Open Happiness’ to exploring the role Coca-Cola plays in happiness, we make simple, everyday moments more special.”

Sounds like a convincing story except that it does not differentiate Coca-Cola from the competition – at all. “Taste the feeling” works just fine with Pepsi as well.

Pepsi-taste-the-feeling

The soda industry is in decline

CMO de Quinto explains the insight behind the campaign “we’ve found over time that the more we position Coca-Cola as an icon, the smaller we become.” This is a strange insight since the decline of the soft drinks category is happening with or without the iconic Coca-Cola brand.

In the USA the category is already for 10 years (!) in decline. In 2014, there was 14% less sold than in 2004 with the biggest losses for the Diet variants fuelled by concerns over the use of artificial sweeteners. “Water is hot and diet soda is not” writes the WSJ.

It is Coca-Cola and Pepsi again

Inside the soft drink category there is a shift happening: for the first time in years the regular Coca-Cola and Pepsi drinks are leading again. Cola drinkers are back to the core: real cola with sugar. The time could not be better to giver cola drinkers the real reason to choose Coca-Cola over Pepsi.

Taste the Real Thing

‘Taste the Feeling’ is not unique. What is? Taste the Real Thing of course!  No matter whether it is a regular Coca-Cola, Diet or Life, there can be only be one The Real Thing and that is Coca-Cola. The real reason to stay with the brand and buy it time after time again.

Coca-Cola-Taste-the-real-thing

Growth from other categories

To continue growth as a company the Coca-Cola Company will need to re-focus and reposition. Get leadership positions in new categories with new products under new brands.

And while exploring new categories and working on gaining leadership positions give current consumers the reason to drink Coca-Cola: Taste the real thing.

 

Go Volvo be Volvo – back to safety ? – Part III

Regular readers of this blog know that I follow Volvo. I find it a fascinating brand and close to my heart. I am raised in a Volvo family and I still remember the day that we got a Volvo 240 and my father was proudly showing the (massive) crumple zone to anyone interested.

Unfortunately,  in my opinion Volvo has lost track with safety or simply got bored with it.

In search for the core

I wrote about Volvo in 2011 when the brand so hard tried to be a brand it is not (BMW, Audi, …), literally divesting all the hard-earned brand building. In  2014 I wrote again about Volvo.  In that year the brand continued to be in real trouble in the USA. Already in 2012 the WSJ Market Watch suggested that Volvo might as well exit the market.  I was eagerly waiting what the move of Volvo would be. The real options are of course to go fully back to the core of the brand or go further away.

The ‘in between’ option

Volvo has unfortunately chosen the ‘in between option’  of doing a bit of both. The new Volvo USA site is a clear manifestation of that approach.  I really like the new site, it feels Volvo. Unfortunately it does not read  Volvo.

The one thing we connect the Volvo brand to,  Safety is simply not a topic. Other car brands can get away with this but Volvo is not any other car brand, it is the brand that is perceived to be the safest car brand.

“This is Volvo Cars”  –  no  safety anymore

The lead text of the section “This is Volvo Cars” reads:

This-is-Volvo

Indeed, no mentioning of Safety at all. I would have changed that to something like this:

This-is-Volvo-Edit

Product pages – premium cars

The individual car pages follow the same pattern, with a tiny little mentioning of safety. Take a look at the  Volvo XC90 page. Beautifully designed yet the only mentioning of safety is in the right bottom of the page. And as you will see it is a long long scroll to get there.

XC90-safety

The XC90 page is no exception. On every other car page you find Safety in the rock bottom of the page.

Value propositions without safety 

XC90
Swedish grace – Our newest Volvo with bold harmonious design, pure uncluttered luxury, and advanced safety and comfort for seven

XC70
Choose your adventure – The XC70 is a supremely luxurious wagon for those who like their adventure with a sense of sophistication.

XC60
At home, everywhere – The perfect car for drivers in search of adventure around town and beyond it.

V60
The Sportswagon That Hauls – For people who need the versatility of a wagon, but want the dynamic handling of a sports sedan.

S80
Make A statement – The S80 sedan offers first class driving at its finest with every well-crafted detail designed to reward.
“Safety is #1”

Continued to be concerned with the approach and pleased with the new design I reached out to Volvo:

Tweet-Volvo-2

And happy to see a wonderful reply within 7(!) minutes:

Tweet-Volvo-1

Tweet-Volvo-3

So what is happening? Apparently something will happen with Safety. Personally I cannot wait to see safety all over the Volvo again to stop draining the brand. Imagine Volvo explaining in detail why each car is the safest in its class… that would be really Volvo!

Go Volvo be Volvo!

Coca-Cola Life: the start of a new life?

Recently a woman was busy handing out green cans in the supermarket. From a distance it looked like the introduction of a new health drink. I got curious! When I got closer I saw that it was nothing less than the introduction of Coca-Cola Life – the Cola with ingredients of natural origin – in the Netherlands.

The pressure on Coca-Cola Company to go along with the trend of natural products requires little explanation. The soft drink category is in decline. At this time, Americans drink about 167 liters of soft drinks per year. This is a sharp decline from the 201 liters per person in 1998. Surprisingly, water once again has become America’s favorite drink. Up to 211 liters per person in 2013, an increase of 38% compared to 1998. At the same time, the worldwide market for organic food and beverages has grown enormously and it is expected that this year the US $ 100 billion limit will be exceeded.

It is therefore crystal clear that Coca-Cola must formulate a response to this trend. Yet, I cannot conclude otherwise that Coca-Cola Company has failed to create a brand-worthy match between the trend and the Coca-Cola brand.

On the trend but not on the brand

Coca-Cola represents energy, refreshment, joy and live positively. It is not about being healthy. To make a brand worthy connection with a trend, Coca-Cola Company must make sure this experience comes back in the answer on the trend. If you launch a new proposition, which Coca-Cola Company does, and then going to call it “Coca-Cola Life is our latest innovation within the Coca-Cola portfolio, sweetened with ingredients from natural origin and contains a third less sugar and calories’ , then you’re well on the trend but not on your brand. This is a missed opportunity.

Be fresh in nature

The brand image of Coca-Cola Life is very green. A green wooden crate with some plants, a few bottles of Life and in the background a haze of green grass. Very nice, but not for Coca-Cola, the brand that just about the real experience of energy, refreshment, joy, enjoy and live positively.

Red is the color of Cola

Coca-Cola Life is green and rationally that is right: green is the color of natural products. Emotionally, however, we know better: red belongs to the Coca-Cola brand experience and the cola category as a whole. Therefore you also find the color red on non Coca-Cola brands. The cans of Pepsi have some red, Walmart’s Sam’s Cola and the Freeway Cola of the German discount store Lidl are red. It seems to me unwise to let go of something so fundamental which is built by investing years in helping consumers making the association. To me, a much more brand-worthy experience would have been a red Coca-Cola Life can with hint of green.

Absolutely nothing beats Life

When a brand has the name Life it suggest that it is also good for your life, especially when it is reinforced by the green color that we all associate with healthy. But where does that leave all the other products? Does it not give an indirect warning to consumers that they are not good for your life?

This makes Coca-Cola ‘Life’ also an outsider in the Coca-Cola portfolio: all other Coca-Cola brands help consumers to make a choice based on taste or lifestyle. Think of Vanilla, Cherry, Zero, Coke and Caffeine-free. ‘Life’ does not help to make a choice on taste or lifestyle. A less comprehensive name that is in line with the brand would have made a better fit.

As a summary: it is great that Coca-Cola Company follows trends and capitalizes on it. Too bad they passed their strong brand totally. But hopefully also for Coca-Cola “Life can be full of surprises’ ….

Focused brands have the future

A great example of being everything for everyone is Facebook, the world’s second most visited site. How can Facebook’s growth be in trouble? Simply by being everything to everyone.  Within the next few years we will see that Facebook gives up market share to more focused social networks. The trend is already there. The Conversation presented results from a study funded by the European Union on social media. From the study, we learn that for sixteen to eighteen year olds in the UK “Facebook is not only on the slide, but actually dead and buried. Often the youth feels embarrassed to be associated with Facebook.”

The findings are in line with Facebook’s own findings. CFO David Ebersam reported during the presentation of the third quarter results of 2013 “We did see a decrease in daily users partly among younger teens … This is of questionable significance.” Wow. What is happening here?

Nothing to nobody

Facebook is the current leader of the entire social networking category. “Facebook is a social network that brings friends, colleagues, classmates and acquaintances together”. And that is a long-term problem. If you are everything to everybody, you will eventually become nothing to nobody.

It is logical that new social networks that focus on smaller segments or new categories will divide the big Facebook pie. A good example is Pinterest, the social networking site that acts as a bulletin board and has a tremendous growth.

These focused sites attract new users who are not using any social network, but more often users of Facebook. This leads to a smaller group of Facebook users, resulting in content of inferior quality, making the brand less interesting for existing users and more difficult for advertisers to targeted audiences.

Focus

In the long run the market will simply demand a focused approach because the perception of a focused brand is always better than the perception of a comprehensive one.

Just ask yourself these questions:

  • Which brand do you think is better in high end watches, the one only making high end watches or the one making high end watches, jewelry and clothes?
  • Which restaurant brand makes better Thai food? The one preparing Chinese, Japanese and Thai or the one just preparing Thai food?
  • Would you rather have a TV+Bluray+Digibox combo or have it separate?
  • Do you trust the all-around surgeon for an operation or would you rather go with a specialist?

And finally,  which bakery brand bakes better French bread? The bakery called Rezé “Boulangerie Traditionnelle Francaise” or a bakery baking all kinds of breads, including French?

If you are an entrepreneur make sure you are focused enough and associate yourself with one category, not many.

If you are an established business and want to have relevant brands in the future, it is time to make choices about the category in which you are active.  Don’t follow Facebook.

Netflix buys DVD.com, what’s next in the branding saga?

Netflix, once known as one of the most successful dot-com startups is going through a rough time with some serious branding mistakes. Today I read on engadget.com that Netflix bought DVD.com… why would they do that?

Seven years ago the world looked great for Netflix. In 2005 it was shipping 1 Million DVDs per day to its subscribers. Wow! Netflix had an amazing position: it simply was #1 in the DVD rental. Netflix was nicely riding on the DVD player sales. There was one problem though… the DVD player was eventually going to be replaced by digital distribution.

The Netflix folks saw that coming and in 2007 they introduced streaming under the same Netflix brand. The service became successful but times changed and in Q3 2011 Netflix lost 800.000 subscribers.

The Netflix folks saw that one coming too and decided that the strong brand Netflix should live on in the streaming business, making place for a new brand called Qwikster for the DVD rental business. A couple of months later the idea was buried.

Or… was it? Netflix has now bought DVD.com. I am sure one of the ideas of the folks at Netflix is to use that for the rental business, moving Netflix over to the streaming business forever.

Now… what is going on here? Is this really the smartest move? No it is not!

Firstly, Netflix should have retained the Netflix brand for the DVD rental business only. The brand was the number one in the category. Even though the category is dying (and with that the brand) it would have been the best thing.

Secondly, for the streaming business a second brand would have been appropriate. It is a substantial new business / category in which the company could have been number one again. This brand should have been positioned as the streaming service.

Thirdly, buying a generic domain “DVD.com” is really a waste of money. Consumers are not thinking “I’d like to rent a DVD so I go to DVD.com”,  they think “I’d like to rent a DVD so I go to Netflix.com”. The DVD.com “brand” is a waste of money.

 

Amazon.com, the online retailer where we used to shop

The other day when visiting Amazon.com I got a surprise: a new home page!  I guess Amazon is testing and therefore spreading the new home page in the wild with some customers.

The new home page shows the new direction of Amazon. In fact it is a long departure from the Amazon that we all know so well. You know,  the company that sells physical goods, “Earth’s Biggest Retailer“ and has a well earned number one position.

Not so any more. Today Amazon reinvents themselves as a digital retailer. What a really bad idea.  I wrote earlier about Amazon and their line extension move to digital. There were clear signs that Amazon might fall for the line extension trap.

Let take a look at the new home page:

Now take a close look at the categories:

  • Instant video
  • MP3 store
  • Cloud Player
  • Kindle
  • Cloud Drive
  • Appstore for Android
  • Game & Software Downloads
  • Audible Audiobooks

Hang on a minute? Where are:

  • Books
  • Film, Music, Games
  • Electronics
  • Computers & Office
  • Home, Garden, Pets
  • Toys, Children & Baby
  • Clothes, Shoes & Watches
  • Hobbies, Sports & Leisure
  • Grocery, Health & Beauty
  • DIY, Tools & Car

Clearly, in the “new” Amazon these are not as important anymore. It is now all about digital.

Let’s get somethings straight:

  • Amazon is currently in traffic #5 in the USA and #15 globally (via Alexa.com Sep 25)
  • Amazon is the undisputable #1 online retailer “Earth’s Biggest” both in numbers and in consumers mind
  • Some of Amazon product categories are challenged by more focussed brands like Diapers.com, Drugstore.com, Bookrepository.com and many more, but Amazon has still competitive advantage over many of the challengers by offering Amazon Prime (‘free’ shipping for 79USD per year) across all the product ranges.

Now, Amazon wants to “expand” the business and moving into digital. In other words moving from a category in which it is number one to a category it will need to compete really hard against established brands like  iTunes, Spotify, Pandora, Skydrive and many more…

The big question for me is: what are the guys at Amazon HQ’s thinking? Why dilute the meaning of the Amazon brand by entering in the digital space? You did it right with Kindle (you did not call it the Amazon reader) and MyHabit  (you did not call it Amazon Fashion Goldbox) and you should have done exactly the same with digital.

Keep your brand where it is established, especially when it is number one in a category and create a new brand for digital, that is what Amazon should have done.

Product naming going wrong, case: Apple Final Cut Pro X.

Since 2005 Apple has sold a professional video and audio production suite for OS X named Final Cut Studio. The core product inside this suite is Final Cut Pro, a video editing product. It has been around since 1999 and is used by many filmmakers.

A couple of weeks ago Apple launched the long-awaited successor of Final Cut Pro 7, called Final Cut Pro X.

Here is a test for all readers… by just looking at the name and without possibly any prior knowledge of Final Cut Pro…  what would you expect of Final Cut Pro X as a successor of Final Cut Pro 7 ?

Could it be: everything from version 7 and much much much more… including some super new innovations in video editing (why otherwise use the X in the name)? This expectation building was happening inside the community. To sum it up with two words, the expectation was nothing less than total awesomeness.

Apple however decided to do things differently. They build Final Cut Pro X from the ground up as a new product, leaving many features desired by the Final Cut Pro 7 audience out. To name a few: importing of video projects from version 7 to X does not work (hey? why do you call it still Final Cut Pro if it cannot handle Final Cut Pro files?), multicam editing (hey? isn’t this a Pro feature?) and many more.

Professional editors get even more the feeling that this is not a Pro product when they launch Final Cut Pro X for the first time. At that time a dialog is presented to import iMovie projects. iMovie is Apple’s entry video editing product that is part of iLife. Products considered to be used in the home environment, not by professionals…

As a result of all of this the product is rated really bad on the Apple Mac App Store. And note, consumers can only rate after they purchased the USD 299 product:

For any Apple product these are not normal ratings, far from it! So the question is could it be that the name positions the product wrong? I think partly it is. Let’s take a look:

  1. A name has a meaning. There is Photoshop CS3, CS4, CS5. A consumer expects all of these to be photoshop. The same applies for Final Cut Pro. Unfortunately Final Cut Pro X has little or nothing to do with the previous Final Cut Pro 7.
  2. Do not alienate your target audience. Clearly, for whatever reason Apple is not after the professional market and that is of course totally fine. But it is not smart to let your previous target audience believe you still make a great product for them. In stead, Apple could have simply named the product iMovie Pro as many have suggested on their product reviews on the Apple Mac App Store. That way it would have been clear to the professional market that they should switch to another brand, without letting them buy Final Cut Pro X and be double disappointed. At the same time not naming the product Final Cut Pro would show to the professional consumer that there now is a product beyond iMovie that is not as hard to use as Final Cut Pro was. Something Apple clearly wants to achieve.

Take a look at the two reviews below. These reviews were served first when searching for Final Cut Pro X on July 19.

The big questions: would all of this have been different if the product was called “iMovie Pro”?
… And by doing so would the one star ratings go away?
… Would the endless complaining about the Final Cut Pro X not being the same as Final Cut Pro 7 go away?
Ultimately: would the product have been positioned correctly by naming it properly?
Screenshot from July 19, click to enlarge

Lexus LFA 350K sports car: why did Toyota not introduce a new brand?

Lexus LFAWith quite a few posts about car brands lately you might think that I am an actual car enthusiast. Truth to be told: not so much and at this moment I actually do not even own a car! So what is with the interest in the car industry? I simply think there are lots of interesting things happening. Brands are trying to reestablish, re-associate themselves or find ways to take a bigger bite of the pie.
This week I was reading about the Lexus LFA, a 350.000USD(!!) Lexus race car. Yes, that’s right: a 350K Lexus! The car looks stunning and according to Car & Driver the mechanics are really good as well. In fact according to C&D the LFA is on par with a Ferrari 599GTB of about the same price. C&D asks the question “in what parallel universe is this thing remotely Lexus-like?”

The fact that a comparison with Ferrari was made me wonder as well why Toyota did not opt to create a new brand for these high end sport monsters.

What would you think about the following:

Lexus?

Lexus? It simple does not work… this is a different car category than the once Lexus is competing in.  With Lexus in the category of high end race cars I am getting confused with Lexus: what is Lexus all about?

Would have something like Veloce have worked? I think so!

Veloce-brands

By creating a new brand, let’s say Veloce,  Toyota would have had all the freedom to build a high performance race/sports car brand. In fact by doing so, Toyota could stretch Veloce down with models around 100K and compete with the iconic Porsche 911 model, especially now Porsche has given up their unique brand position since focussing on SUVs and 4 door cars.

The fact that Veloce is by Toyota is fine, most people also know that Lexus is by Toyota and yet they are happy to pay the extra dollar. At the same time Toyota is racing in the Formula 1 so it has at least some credibility.

And finally on colors: Ferrari is red and Veloce could by white.

all-with-cars

It works very well! White is the color of purity, which works very nice against Ferrari when executed properly.

What would you have done as brand manager at Toyota HQ? Let me know your ideas!

Volkswagen USA: what is happening?

Since my visit to the New York auto show in April I have been wondering about the Volkswagen brand positioning here in the USA. In Europe Volkswagen is really positioned as the peoples car and as such their visual identity and communication reflects that.

Here in the USA it has been different and VW has been making some steps a long the way. Take a look at the examples below:

Playing tough...
Previous website: playing tough...
... friendly, the brand for everybody
Current website: perhaps too premium design? And... where are the People?
Very sophisticated at the New York auto show April 2009
Very sophisticated and premium at the New York auto show April 2009
Even though next to Audi, the VW stand really looked much more premium
The Audi stand next to VW looked really basic...

Yes, Volkswagen has made progress from the tough looking old website design to the more approachable current design but it still feels Volkswagen is a bit lost.

It is lost in its positioning against Audi, the other brand in the Volkswagen group.

In order to be the people car it should not out win Audi in webpage design. It should also not out win Audi either in big events like the New York Autoshow. It should never out win Audi.

What should Volkswagen do? It is of course up to the Volkswagen Group to figure out how to play with Audi, VW and Porsche in their brand portfolio but it is clear that there is some clear overlap at the moment. That is bad, as it will decrease distinctiveness of these wonderful brands against competition. My recommendation would be to bring much more focus on what made Volkswagen big: being the people car and Das Auto! There is a lot to play with when you think of a car for the people. That is, The Car for The People!