Archive for July, 2011

Your brand is your killer app

Monday, July 11th, 2011

Companies often dream of producing a game-changing “killer app” that can wow customers, create new markets and vanquish competitors. What most companies don’t realize is that they already have a potential killer app in house, under their control, ready to be launched. Their potential killer app is their brand—if they choose to use its formidable powers as an application to create customers and open new markets.

Brands as applications

Yes, brands are applications. As applications they can apply the full context of a company’s products and services—practical, creative, emotional, moral and spiritual— to lead customers to richer realms of living. Brands developed as applications (in the real world) are far more productive than brands developed as communications in the make-believe worlds of media campaigns. Instead of relying on symbols, slogans, gestures and promises, brand applications roll up their sleeves and help customers get to where they’re going. Applications get things done. They’re methods of creating customer value, direct and focused, fully integrated to produce strategic customer outcomes. Current sales is one of those outcomes, but platform hegemony with an exclusive new class of customers is the goal.

Creating the brand as killer app

To create your brand as a killer app I suggest you start with two previous posts in this blog:

  1. Brand strategy: Create your entire brand as a customer-focused application
  2. FAQ: Creating your brand as a customer-focused application

They will get you started with the right framework and strategic view.

Developing the full context of your brand

Developing the full context of your brands means that you have to envision how your brand can create (and co-create) value in multiple dimensions: practical, creative, emotional, moral and spiritual. Chances are, you already have some ideas about what these dimensions are. Of course, it pays to think big. (Brands never think small.) With your brand as a killer app you will seriously re-position the customer to win. You will also change the game by changing the customer. Yes, the full context of your brand means a newer and fuller context for the customer.

Practical steps

As practical steps, you might begin by asking yourself these questions:

  1. What is holding our customers back?
  2. Where do they want to go—and how can we help them get there?
  3. How can our brand advance customers beyond the reach of competitors?
  4. How can we create customers that add value back to the brand?
  5. How can our customers become our strongest competitive weapon?

The above questions are from my post called Strategy for an “immersive” brand. Killer apps are immersive.





How name brands can get a bad name

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011

Name brands can get a bad name when they treat their customers as targets for ads rather than partners in a brand relationship. A relentless, overpowering sales pitch can drive out brand qualities and just might drive away customers.

Here’s how that might happen:

TV ads that hound you in the aisles

These days many people resolutely skip ads on TV using the remote or the DVR, or simply find their content on the Web or via social media, where ads are less intrusive. Imagine how these people might feel when they zip off to the supermarket and find nonstop ads beamed at them from little TV screens up and down the aisles, everywhere they turn. What they so thoroughly avoided at home now has them trapped in the store. It’s like a scene from The Twilight Zone.

Perhaps this is a preview:


What kind of brand experience is this?

If I’m at a grocery store being assaulted by sales pitches from rows of tiny TV screens, some at shelf edge, I have to ask myself, “What kind of brand experience is this? Why are these products doing this to me? Why is the store doing this to me? These are name brands, and this is a name brand store. Why is it now a creep show pumping ads? Don’t these brands know any better? Where’s their respect for me?”

The alternative is easy

Maybe this is why a lot of people head on over to Trader Joe’s. At Trader Joe’s there’s basically one brand for the whole store and its products. That brand conveys respect, and in so doing earns respect. It’s a much smaller store than a supermarket, but one’s personal space is honored as infinite.

For brands, that idea is obvious.


Your identity is how you change the game

Sunday, July 3rd, 2011

The best way to create an identity is to change the game, and to make your identity synonymous with the wonders of the new game at hand. Apple’s iPhone and iPad prove the wisdom of this approach.

Copycat brands don’t change the game. They cling to the current game like sucker fish, hoping for a free ride. Nothing they do takes the customer to the next level. Their identity devolves to features, which offer no identity traction at all.

David Pogue gives us a pretty funny glimpse of how this plays out in the current tablet market.





To change the game you have to change the customer. HP still has a way to go.