Monthly Archives: November 2008

Chrome: a big win for Google

For a company dominating the web and challenging everything on the desktop with a cheaper web-based alternative, a web browser is an obvious offering. So there came Google Chrome, accompanied with mixed reviews from the technology world. Some people liked it being light weight, flexible between tabs and windows, organized etc., while others hated the missing home page and claimed that it has nothing path breaking as compared to other web browsers available in the market. No matter what your personal viewpoint is on Chrome, in the short term, it is a big win for Google. Why?

Google has set itself as the launch pad on the Internet. The Google’s advertising programs control the major chunk of advertising investment on the web. So basically the better the experience customers have online, better it is for Google. The single most important goal for Google is to bring more and more people online and provide them great web experience. Now even a mediocre Chrome at this time generated enough competition in the market to improve other web browsers even more and make the customer experience much better than what it has ever been. No matter which browser people end up using, if they spend more time on the Internet, it will help Google get stronger and more profitable than anyone else.

With the growing emphasis on cloud and web-based applications, it is hard to imagine how the browsers will look like a couple of years from now. In the long term, it is quite possible that the company that wins the browser battle will have an upper hand in controlling the use of applications hosted in the cloud, but in the short term, improvement in any web browser is a win for Google.

Linking ideas to product

If we were playing Jeopardy, the right answer would have been: “What is branding?”

Beijing Olympics 2008 is one of the classical examples of branding at a global scale from the recent times. China spent north of $40 billion to link the idea of progressiveness and development to the country. The infrastructure improvements, the pollution control, the massive ceremonies and the security arrangements apart from a list of other things linked the idea of progressiveness and development to the product known as China.

Similarly, when a company tries to brand a product like face cream, they link the idea of beauty to the product. That sense of beauty is exposed in every bit of the product right from the formula that’s used to develop it to its packaging to the advertisements of the product. Everything together tries to deliver the same message to convince the customers.  

Whether you are branding the most populous country in the world or a face cream or just water, it sums up to the simple process of linking ideas to product (or service). The logo, advertisements and customer service, all have their own roles to play when it comes to branding.

I believe there are two main purposes of branding. First is creating trustworthiness. Trust plays a major role in any decision a customer is making and that is one of the big goals behind branding. The second purpose behind branding is to create a community to back your product. Ideas are not attached by marketers alone, they are attached by consumers as well. And when consumers attach an idea with your product, it speaks much louder than you doing the same. So the goal here is to provide enough buzz and space for the mavens to pick up your product and take it from there to create more trust in the community and build your brand equity.

A post-it note that won a customer

I recently took a flight from Seattle to Hong Kong (yes, it was a long one with a break in Seoul, South Korea) with Asiana airlines. The overall service of this airline was well above anything I have experienced in the likes of American, United or Delta airlines. But on top of that, one experience I had with Asiana customer service in this trip stood out to be exceptional.

During the flight from Seattle to Seoul, I fell asleep while dinner was being served on board. By the time I woke up, people were done with their meals, air hostesses were done collecting the used trays and tray-tables were closed. In a nutshell, I would have hardly known that the dinner was served while I was asleep. But on waking up, I saw a post-it note in front of me which said: “We served dinner while you were resting. We did not want to disturb you, but whenever you feel like dining, please let us know. We will be happy to be at your service.”

WOW! Now that sets the bar for hospitality (in economy class) on an airplane. 

In this immensely competitive airline industry, something this small can make all the difference for a customer while booking tickets for the next trip. I have taken several inter-continental flights over the last decade, some with good service, while others not so good terrible, but Asiana’s service made me an instant maven. What made Asiana standout of the lot is that they go an extra step to make sure they take care of their customers. With the deteriorating service of many other airlines, I would recommend you to try Asiana airlines if you can. I am pretty sure you will be impressed.

Going local

The basic idea behind any marketing or advertising effort is to create a connection with the customers. The success of your campaign depends on how well a customer can identify with your product. And when it comes to identifying with a product, connection at a regional level plays a very important role. You can define a region at any level, it can be a country, a state and in some cases, even cities.

Let’s talk about going local in a country. In the world today, you got to consider the global marketplace which is full of diversity. In order to link to their customers in this diverse global market, companies try to adapt their stories to make it compelling for the people in a particular geography. Consider India as an example. In India, there are many global brands which are so well connected to the local community that people end up thinking them to be local brands. Vicks (Procter & Gamble), Maggie noodles (Nestle), Bata footwear, Cadbury Dairy Milk (CadburySchweppes), Lifebuoy soaps (Unilever) and many others fall in this category. The reason being the way these brands have established connection with the people in the country. The product itself is localized in many cases, followed by localized advertisements, packaging, slogans and what not.

But this concept of going local is not limited at the country level. In many states, companies use local branding strategies to connect with the customers. For example, while Ford slogan in most parts of USA is “Ford Built Tough”, in Texas the company goes local with its campaign slogan: “Ford is the best in Texas”. The goal is again very simple: connect with the customers in Texas, and if it can be done better with a local slogan, let’s use that.

I believe when a brand goes for local connection, it generates a much higher level of trustworthiness with the customers. It makes the customers feel important and increases their loyalty towards the brand, in-turn making the local connection work.