Category Archives: Branding
It will surely go down as one of the great CEO quotes of 2014. Netflix’s visionary CEO, Reed Hastings, was asked about his counterpart at HBO, Richard Plepler, who had recently said he was not concerned about people sharing passwords for HBO’s online service, HBO Go.
“So I guess Plepler, the CEO of HBO, doesn’t mind me sharing his account information. So it’s Plepler@hbo.com and his password is Netflixbitch” remarked Hastings.
The apparent tension between Netflix and HBO, the two iconic companies behind some of America’s most loved shows (and Americans do love their television) has captivated the media, ourselves included. It’s not difficult to understand why. In many ways, it symbolizes the classic 21st-century business story: an upstart challenger from Silicon Valley disrupting an incumbent with a compelling and well-priced product, underpinned by impressive technology.
But the rivalry is grounded less in reality than in clever marketing.
Last year was by any measure a resoundingly successful one for Netflix, which added a 6 million paying users, a 25% increase, in the US market. But how many did HBO lose over the same period? None. In fact, it added 2 million subscribers, its best performance in 17 years. Media analyst Rich Greenfield earlier this year dismissed (registration required) the notion that Netflix’s growth was coming at the expense of premium channels like HBO. “We believe over-the-top video households are among the most passionate about video content—meaning you subscribe to HBO and Netflix, not HBO or Netflix,” he wrote.
The best evidence that this is not a zero-sum game comes from viewing patterns. Asurvey of nearly 10,000 households by TiVo last year found that those that watched the first season of Netflix’s political drama, House of Cards, watched 85% more HBO content than non-Netflix households did. HBO itself publicly argues that it does not compete directly with Netflix, often describing it as a complementary service.
So why does Hastings keep on fanning the rivalry? According to a report by the New York Times media columnist David Carr (which Netflix has never denied), Hastings has privately told executives at Time Warner that the “comparison benefits Netflix” and that he sees the banter as “harmless mischief.”
But it also serves a subtler purpose.
Americans love HBO shows—the channel’s hits over the past two decades include The Sopranos, The Wire, Game of Thrones and this year’s True Detective. But they also hate their cable companies, who force them to pay for expensive bundles of hundreds of channels in order to get the few, like HBO, that they actually watch. And the cable firms do this because media companies like Time Warner, HBO’s parent, make more money if their channels are all bundled. So the Netflix boss’s quips at HBO are also part of a broader narrative that resonates with almost all Americans: their dissatisfaction with how the pay TV industry works.
A Netflix spokesman describes the rivalry between the two as being like that between baseball’s New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox (“We push each other to do great work”). But as businesses, at least, HBO and Netflix are very different beasts, and that doesn’t look like it’s about to change. At an investor briefing last week, Plepler was again asked whether the company would consider selling HBO Go on a standalone basis, which would make it a lot more like Netflix. (Currently, only subscribers to HBO on cable can use its online service). “We have the capacity to do it. We have the ability to pivot, and if we think that makes sense, we’re going to do it,” he said. “But right now, there are four billion reasons or so to do it the way we’re doing it [now]“. (HBO generated $4.4 billion in revenue last year).
There are, of course, ways the two companies compete directly. They have both tried to acquire the same content in the past: Netflix outbid HBO for House of Cards. They compete for critical acclaim, although at this juncture, HBO retains a commanding lead. But as Jeffrey Katzenberg, the CEO of Dreamworks, succinctly summarized the situation to the New York Times last month. “I think there’s a fiction here that somehow Netflix gains are HBO losses.” And it’s a fiction that Netflix seems quite happy to sustain.
By: John McDuling (Originally Posted at Quartz)
Do any of you remember seeing this commercial?
Whether you’ve seen it or not watch it again, and see if you notice anything different.
First and foremost I would like to thank not only Lt. Chuck Nadd, but the many other armed forces personnel who fight for our country everyday. If it wasn’t for you we wouldn’t be living in the greatest country on earth.
As for this Super Bowl, Super Bowl XLVIII, I don’t think many of the commercials made a lasting impression on me as this one did. It was a deep commercial which commercialized the “American Soldier”, in this case Lt. Chuck Nadd. I don’t mean any disrespect to him or any other soldier, but Budweiser, in this case does a great job to play with our emotions.
If many of you watch the Super Bowl as my friends and I do, and have done, you wouldn’t be able to hear a door bell with the sound coming from the TV. That being said…Once this commercial came on it had many heads turning to the TV as the song “I’m Coming Home” by Skylar Grey started playing. Watching the commercial, I couldn’t stop from glancing at the many peoples facial reactions that were present there. You could sense the emotions in the room at that point. But, this is not the single reason why I think this commercial was the best of the commercials shown during Super Bowl XLVIII.
The second reason I believe this was a great commercial is the use of the Zeigarnik effect. For those that do not know what it is, you can easily ‘Google it’, or keep reading. The Zeigarnik was a discovery made by Bluma Zeigarnik. Interestingly enough, she as was I were both born in a small country, Lithuania, in Eastern Europe. Though it is a very small country of under 3 million, the people have achieved very much, but this maybe for another blog.
The Zeigarnik Effect, as defined by ‘Psychwiki’, is “the tendency to experience intrusive thoughts about an objective that was once pursued and left incomplete (Baumeister & Bushman, 2008, pg. 122). The automatic system signals the conscious mind, which may be focused on new goals, that a previous activity was left incomplete. It seems to be human nature to finish what we start and, if it is not finished, we experience dissonance.”
One example of the Zeigernik effect is having an advertisement in which you have a sentence saying something but leaving out a word, causing the person looking at the ad trying to figure out the word which is missing. Many psychologists have done research on this topic and have concluded that when you leave out information, the human brain will not only try to resolve the issue, but the person will also remember this information better. As stated by Heimbach and Jacoby, from Nationwide Research Center and Purdue University respectively, in an article for the Third Annual Conference of the Association for Consumer Research titled The Zeigarnik Effect in Advertising, “Since Zeigarnik’s (1927) classic study, it has repeatedly been demonstrated that incomplete tasks are better remembered than complete tasks (cf. Butterfield, 1964).”
Now looking back at the video, at the 0:38 mark, Budweiser’s entire name isn’t shown. At this mark the only letters revealed are the beginning ones…”Budw”. A few scenes later, at the 0:44 mark, the next few letters are revealed…”weis”. Notice also the song in the background, how brilliantly it was used to anchor their brand while using the Zeigarnik Effect.
Genius Advertisement! Very Clever!
Now watch the video again, what do you think?
Was one of those brands an antivirus software company? If yes, get help. If not, keep reading to see why Norton Antivirus may be one of those brands actually worth getting a little excited about.
The antivirus software industry isn’t exactly known for innovative, creative or funny marketing campaigns. It honestly seems that most of the interaction between the majority of the population and antivirus software is clicking the “NO” box when asked to renew a 30 day trial. Fortunately, there’s nothing about any of this that means things need to stay this way. In fact, Norton may have just broken the proverbial ice with a brilliant little Facebook post.
Remember a few days ago when you couldn’t turn on your television without hearing about everyone’s favorite Canadian pop star? As one CNN anchor put it, “the most important story of the week”. In a week severely lacking subtantial news stories, like massive riots in the Ukraine, the Sochi Olympics, severe chemical spills in West Virginia, and an upcoming State of the Union address, I am glad our largest media outlets chose to focus on the news that truly matters.
But, I digress. Norton was able to brilliantly leverage this absolutely insane level of coverage to their advantageby posting the picture to the right up on their Facebook page.
Did you laugh? I definitely did when I first saw this post come up in my Facebook feed.
As of the time of this blog being written the post containing this picture onNorton’s Facebook page has reached over 14,000 likes, nearly 12,000 shares and just shy of 700 comments. For reference, the average across the last 3 visual posts by Norton would be 38 likes, 3 shares and 1 comment. I’d say the marketing team at Norton did a good job with this one!
In a year where McAfee is absolutely reeling as they attempt to rebrand into Intel Security, Norton couldn’t have chosen a better time to go viral. By going viral on Facebook Norton have likely exposed themselves to thousands of individuals they otherwise would not have reached, especially those young folks that will become the future customer base of Norton.
I just wanted to share this with all of you and I hope you got as much of a kick out of it as I did! This is really just a great example of how creativity can help in making your content stick. Norton’s marketing team took a current news bit, and instead of just writing a blog post about it decided to make a simple but funny visual piece of media out of it. Simple, but brilliantly well done, and all within Norton’s current brand scheme! I’m in content heaven, guys.
Stay creative everyone, inspire yourself every day.
To the marketing guys at Norton who drew up this great bit, keep up the great work. No pressure.”
Taken from MediaWizardz blog titled “Why the Norton Marketing Team is Winning Newsjacking in 2014” by Michael Korolishin.
What do consumers do when they are going through the purchase decision? They gather information. But, do they gather information for all the options? Most likely the answer is no, they do not.
Consumers tend to stick to certain brands they trust. This is very important for not only organizations, people and businesses to understand.
Lets take a theoretical situation where John is looking for a surround sound system. After getting off of work on Friday, John stops at a gas station to fill up his car. While he is standing at the gas pump, day dreaming about his choices for which sound system he would like to buy this weekend, a person walks up to him asking him if he would like to buy a surround sound system for $150 (a friend of mine was approached and given this price). When I bought a BOSE surround sound system, I paid upwards of $800 for it. If you were John would you pay cash for a surround sound system sold on the street. In most cases no you wouldn’t, because you have no trust in the person selling it, and you would also have to trust that it actually works.
Lets look at another example, this one taken from “The Brand Gap”, written by Marty Neumeier, a book I read a few years ago. Looking back, before the Revolutionary War of the United States, when there was also paper currency. But right after the Revolutionary War paper money became much less valuable than previous to the war. Silver and Gold became currencies that people of that time could trust. Since then, it took close to a few hundred years in order for citizens to accept Silver Certificates as a substitute, even though they were still backed by metal reserves. Further, it wasn’t until a hundred years later that we were willing to accept Federal Reserve Notes, which aren’t even backed by metals but instead by the brand of America. Quickly afterwards in the book Neumeier writes “Will we soon be ready to accept international cyber-currency as an improvement on credit cards? Sure, if we can trust it.” (This book was written almost ten years ago)
Nearly ten years later we are seeing just that, the acceptance of a cyber-currency named ‘Bitcoin’. Why are some companies from all over the world taking it as a form of payment, why is an individual selling his house in the Hampton’s for Bitcoins? The answer is simple, we are beginning to trust it.
Much like trusting a person, or a form of currency when we make purchase decisions we are engaging in trust, whether it be the brand of a product, or a brand of the distributor. Nevertheless we are Trusting The Brand. We trust the brand because of previous experiences, word-of-mouth, or the fact that the brand has been around for many years. There are many reason why we trust certain brands, but this trust from consumers is very important.
How do you get consumers to trust you? How do you get a person to trust you? Through time and actions can a perception of trust come about.
In the last few months I was working with my university to create a branding strategy. After extensive research, I concluded that the university I was attending was not the only one with marketing problems but there are many universities across the nation struggling in positioning themselves. The definition of positioning is how you differentiate your product or service from that of your competitors and then determine which market niche to fill (entrepreneur).
From the below examples you can see that educational institutions do not differentiate themselves from one another, furthermore they don’t even differentiate themselves from the industry they are in. The core mission attributes from some universities are as follows:
- University of California, Los Angeles: Education, Research, Service
- Pepperdine University: Purpose, Service, Leadership
- Chapman University: Leadership, Innovation, Creativity
These universities listed are world-class, but fail to differentiate themselves. For example, any university can say that they provide an education, offer a service, or focus on leadership. These universities do not provide positioning statements. One reason is that they are well established and do not feel the need to position themselves in consumers minds. I believe that this is a huge mistake that even these top universities in Southern California make. Higher education is becoming more and more expensive for future students as time goes by, thus these institutions aren’t fighting for prospective students today, but they will definitely be fighting harder for students in the future.
Some smaller universities with much less prestige have come up with positioning statements and have positioned themselves. They are the institutions that need to fight harder for students today. Some examples of their positioning statements are as follows:
- University of Memphis: Dreamers, Thinkers, Doers
- University of Texas, Austin: Lead, Engage, Innovate, Impact
- Northern Illinois University: Research, Service, Experience(Student-Centered)
Canadian University examples:
- Trent University: Personal, Purposeful, Transformative
- Asbury University: Committed, Engaging, Supportive
Still, these universities, with the exception of a few do not differentiate themselves from other universities.
The leaders of universities today have to be made aware of the growing importance of marketing in terms of branding themselves and positioning themselves properly. They are becoming businesses and must start acting as such, because students are beginning to see them as commodities in today’s world. The increasing cost of going to a university is growing at an unprecedented rate, thus future students are no longer willing to go to certain universities only for tradition, and culture. Universities need to start positioning themselves much like the University of Memphis. Universities need to make their institution an attractive place to go, especially once students are beginning to do cost-benefit analysis. As consumers, they want to know what is in it for them, what they will get in return for going to your university, and how their choice will affect their chances at getting a job once they graduate(especially in our current economy).
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