brand permission

This tag is associated with 5 posts

Facebook breaks the brand permission rules


Back in February, I wrote a post about how Google stepped beyond its brand permission limits with the launch of the Buzz platform, a classic brand mistake (read more about brand permission here or here). Over the last few months, Facebook has also moved into a dangerous brand space, and may be doing permanent damage to its brand in the process.

You’ve probably seen people (or participated in) spewing venom at Facebook about its privacy practices, so I certainly won’t rehash that stuff here. If this is news to you, and you want to see what people are saying and how Facebook is responding, this interview in The New York Times with Facebook’s VP for Public Policy from earlier this week is a good starting point.

So, beyond the (really good) privacy reasons, why is it so bad that Facebook is making more of your information public by default? What’s the brand mistake? Let’s again look to the brand tags site for some clues. According to the site, the top terms associated with Facebook are:

addictive
annoying
boring
college
community
friends
fun
kids
lame
myspace
networking
people
social networking
stupid
waste of time
young

I’ve put in bold a few terms I think are especially important. If I was to put them in a sentence, it’d read something like “Facebook is a social networking site where people have fun or waste time with their community of friends.”

For most people, this sentence describes the service they signed up for. And hundreds of millions of people must value the Facebook brand for this purpose, because Facebook has been one of the fastest growing platforms the world has ever seen.

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Google Buzz didn’t get permission, but it also didn’t get brand permission


You’ve probably seen at least one of the 9 zillion articles written over the last week about Google Buzz. The feedback from the public has been, well… kinda ugly. There are plenty of articles and blogs analyzing problems with the Buzz launch around user privacy, opt in vs. opt out, and that kind of thing, so I won’t rehash those arguments.

Bumblebee sez: yo Google, you really should have asked first!

In this post, we’ll look at the brand mistake Google made in how they launched Buzz.

This article from the San Francisco Chronicle website about a class action lawsuit filed against Google caught my eye because of the following paragraph:

Google turned Gmail “into a social networking service and that’s not what they signed up for, Google imposed that on them without getting their consent,” said Kimberly Nguyen, consumer privacy counsel with EPIC of Washington, D.C.

That sentence is a great articulation of why Buzz is a classic case of not securing brand permission, a subject I have covered here and here.

To be of any value, a brand must create meaning in people’s minds. People associate certain terms or ideas with that brand. If you want to see a awesome experiment in brand meaning, check out the Brand Tags site.

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Brand positioning tip #6: build peninsulas, not islands


In previous posts about brand positioning, we’ve talked about points of parity & points of difference, the competitive frame of reference, brand mantras, and the concept of “brand permission” as tools you can use when developing your brand positioning. Today I want to cover one of the biggest positioning mistakes that I see companies make.

Island hopping is for the South Pacific, not for brands.

I call it island hopping. Let me explain with an example.

Say your company makes dish detergent. You’ve been making dish detergent for 50 years. All you know how to make is dish detergent. Your kids grew up as the famous heirs to a dish detergent fortune. When you show up at parties, people go “hey, look, it’s that dish detergent dude/dudette!” (When your kids show up at parties, people start whispering about videos they saw on the internet, but that’s another story).

Now you hire a new CEO. He has a Harvard MBA. He shows you lots of PowerPoint slides that explain how crappy the market for dish detergent is going to get over the next 50 years. He says you need to diversify into another business, and he suggests the boutique hand soap business is starting to really heat up (after all, who doesn’t want to smell like juniper peppermint citrus after they wash their hands?).

And he’s right. Your kids are spending all your money, and the dish detergent business is going pretty sour.

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Brand naming strategy: branded house or house of brands?


At Red Hat, I often get questions about how we name stuff. It is usually not just idle curiosity, mind you, in most cases someone has a new program or product and would like to call it something like Supersexyshinyfoo. Our team has to play the bad guy role and explain that we don’t usually create new brands like that at Red Hat.

Cow sez: Dude. Do I really need another brand?

Cow sez: Dude. Do I really need another brand?

The response is typically something like “Let me get this straight… You guys think long, boring names like Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization, and JBoss Enterprise Application Platform are better than Supersexyshinyfoo?”

My answer? We already have a Supersexyshiny… it’s the Red Hat brand.

We’ve spent years building the Red Hat brand into something that people associate with (according to our surveys) value, trust, openness, choice, collaboration, and a bunch of other neat things. Studies have shown that Red Hat brand karma is pretty positive. And the logo looks great on a t-shirt. Our brand is one of our most valuable assets.

This is why most Red Hat products have very descriptive (some would say boring…) names. The equation probably looks something like this:

(Supersexyshiny + Foo) = (Red Hat + descriptive name)

This brand strategy is often referred to as a “branded house” strategy.  Take one strong brand, plow all of your brand meaning into it, while differentiating each product with descriptors instead of brand names.

These days, many automobile manufacturers do things this way. Remember when Acura used to have the Acura Integra and the Acura Legend? Honda simplified the branding strategy by moving to RL, TL, TSX, etc. as descriptors for their cars, pointing all of the brand energy back at the Acura brand. Many other auto manufacturers follow similar principles.

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Brand positioning tip #4: brand permission


In brand positioning tips 1-3, we discussed the 4 elements of good brand positioning: points of difference, points of parity, the competitive frame of reference, and the brand mantra. In this post, we are going to switch gears and talk about a subject called brand permission.

Do_Not_Enter_signWhen attempting to position your brand in a new competitive frame of reference (or, in non-marketing-ese, when you want to start selling stuff in a new market), consider whether your brand has earned permission to enter that market.

How do you know if you have permission? And who do you need permission from? Well, let’s look at a few examples.

Back in the early 1990s, Clorox underwent a failed experiment in extending the Clorox brand into detergent. There is a nice short writeup of it here. Why did the detergent product fail?

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