This is my column from Monday 16 July 2012 in the Australian – just in case you missed it.
I was asked by the Australian to comment last week after a judge in the UK deemed Samsung’s Galaxy tablet “not as cool” as the Apple iPad, as part of the ongoing patent war between the two techno giants. Apparently he tweeted his verdict from the bench on his iPhone.
As a marketer I can say the judge’s comments could be seen as a kick in the guts for Samsung, but in reality, is there anything wrong with not being the coolest kid on the block? Maybe for some customers Apple is simply too hip to be cool. Some people want to stand out…for being uncool.
Business is not all about being hip. There are entire industries built out of being ‘daggy’. The Big Bang Theory is one of the most popular television imports on Australian TV.
Samsung and other co-called uncool brands are actually in a position of power to embrace their daggy chic status and start conversations with customers based on functionality rather than fashion. It’s all about how you choose to see the situation – a slap in the face, or an opportunity? I’d choose the latter.
Not everyone is seduced by the cult of brand glamour. Not everyone is swept up with the romance of a brand. Many customers simply want to know does this product meet my needs? Do I care about status? What’s more important to me, fashion or functionality? The brand backlash started in the late 90s with Naomi Klein’s book ‘No Logo’.
I’m a marketer and a ‘sucker’ for new things, but I also don’t want to be a sheep, or a purple cow as Seth Godin so eloquently puts it. Real brand cut through comes from the authentic experience someone has of a brand. A connection. The glamor or status of the brand just doesn’t come into it for some customers. Having said that, Apple does make up 65 per cent of the global; tablet computer market.
But let’s not forget that while the Apple brand and devices might be classified as cooler (and certainly more popular) than their tech-savvy counterparts, sometimes the brand experience doesn’t live up to what we expect. Many customer interactions with Apple are through third parties like Optus, Telstra and other telcos. Can we really believe that the customer experience via these businesses is the same as walking into an Apple store and being served by a “genius”? Neither is right or wrong, but they are certainly different. A lot of the fashion factor comes down to how customers choose to experience and interact with the brand.
We come up against this sometimes at RedBalloon.com.au – as a booking agent for more than 1000 third party suppliers, there are bound to be instances where the customer expectation of a “RedBalloon experience” does not deliver. We too are relying on other businesses to live and breathe our value of customer service.
You know I love speaking about the different ways that businesses can stand out and get people experiencing the brand. And it’s not rocket science. It is just a matter of noticing the detail. Businesses are not faceless organisations… it is just a whole bunch of people pulling in the one direction. Any communication gives people an insight into who you are – hip or daggy?
Samsung should take the publicity and run with it. Play with it. Use it to market their next “uncool” piece of technology. There’s a very big market out there that doesn’t buy into status or glamor.
Besides I see my kids like wearing the white ‘Dunlop Volley’ tennis shoes (in my day that was really daggy)… And that a bloke on a horse revitalized the daggiest brand of all ‘Old Spice.’ Nothing stays the same. Marketing is a journey not a destination and all brands evolve with time (or they die).
Maybe daggy can become the new cool.