Self limiting your brand is a mistake

When it comes to branding, naming your company after your location isn’t a great idea. We watched a hair salon move four times from it’s original eponymous address 23 Second Street and the local grocery chain, Dorothy Lane Market doesn’t have a single location on Dorothy Lane.
Of course, that’s just in the name, but what about your audience? A local company makes tarps and tents. They’ve been doing it since 1948, and only see two markets, farmers and local tent rental. The only advertising they do is in a farm equipment guide. Are they self-limiting their brand and their sales? Of course. Every roll-off construction dumpster needs a tarp to cover the debris as they haul it to the dump, yet, despite making the same product to cover grain trucks, the demolition and waste hauling markets are ignored.

Sometimes companies get confused about what they really sell. Department stores used to be a convenience, in that all the things you need for your household are in one place. That was great until malls came around and did the same thing, only the specialty shops within the mall often offered more focused service, and a better branding experience. The reason for a department stores existence stopped once every single department was duplicated in the mall- at least to younger shoppers. Sears was the sole exception, having built strong brands in Craftsman, Die Hard and Kenmore, while the rest depended on other peoples brands to carry them.

Amazon is what it is today, because Jeff Bezos specifically didn’t call it Amazon Books, but just Amazon. Don’t limit your brand by making it synonymous with your first product, and don’t think any company only has, or will have just one market, because limiting your vision will limit your ability to grow in the future.

Why needing a “product matrix” spells trouble

The Sony product matrix- too many choices

The Sony product matrix- too many choices

It was Sears, that first got it right when it came to presenting product options. They had “good” “better” and “best” and that was all you needed to make up your mind.

I recently went to Sony’s site to look at 37″ flat screen televisions- so that I could figure out which one was right for me- and I came back more confused than when I started. This is bad news for any marketer, because if it’s not clear what you are selling, the customer will find someone else quite literally at the touch of a few keys.

There are some fundamental things that go into making a buying decision- and just being part of the evoked set these days is a major accomplishment. Remember that your brand lives outside the world you control, so you have to make it really easy for people to talk about your products. Need an example: look at So many people go there for reviews before going to the “professionals” to make their buying decisions- so it behooves you to have your products there if possible.

I don’t know how many sites I’ve been to where it’s impossible just to link to a single product info page- very annoying for anyone who wants to write about the widget they just bought and love. Make sure you make it easy for social media to link back- and even better, give them the opportunity to build links on your site back to theirs- it’s called sharing the love.

Complex product matrices make sense to your brand managers, but often leave the consumer scratching their head. Think it’s just in high-tech? Nope, same problem with a local restaurant. They had a great brand, the name of the place- but as they grew, they added a coffee shop/cafe (first brand extension) then a “Jazz room” - second brand extension- and before long, you needed a tutor just to decide where to sit and what to eat. Keep it simple, stupid– still applies.

If you need yet another example, go compare and to try to pick a laptop. Guess which one makes ease of buying a priority? You don’t even have to go to know the answer. Simplicity in product offerings and clear differentiation is more important than ever. Make sure you don’t over think your offering, because your customer won’t.