. . . Wednesday November 10, 2004

Branding: Love Conquers All?

The latest offering from Frontline called The Persuaders is a must watch for those interested in the effort to brand. In the documentary, viewers are guided through the process of how products and brands are marketed in an age when selling the product itself isn’t nearly enough. It’s all about emotion or as the CEO of Saatchi and Saatchi puts it, getting consumers to put reason above loyalty.

My favorite part is when marketers decide that they need to create a cult-like following among consumers. So they start doing focus groups with cult members. Among the “cults” were: Mac users, Linux users, and WWE watchers (one of whom explained that most people who watch wrestling know it’s not a real sport and think of it instead as “male ballet.”).

This brand as emotion discussion segues nicely into this week’s news that Microsoft is about to debut it’s new search tool. Predictably, the news comes with an ominous soundtrack warning of Google’s Netscape-like demise.

There are two reasons why Google shouldn’t be all that worried. As John Battelle points out, “Google ain’t no Netscape.” That’s true in terms of drive, wealth and market position.

But it’s also true in terms of the simple emotions of branding. Microsoft could very well come up with a search tool on par with Google’s. Many believe that Yahoo already has.

But consumers feel a certain way about Google. That relationship is strong and won’t be broken up so easily. To a lesser extent, the same can be said of brands like Netflix and TiVo. Beware of writing them off too quickly. Love conquers all.

Concentration is important!