I am presently in the process of building a fantastic brand together with a truly visionary client. He came to me a few weeks ago and asked me to prepare a presentation on branding for his board of directors.

Assuming the board members would be as bored as I certainly would, having to sit through yet another PPT presentation, I decided to create a video instead, which would hopefully drive a rich exchange of ideas about success and failure in the world of brands.

The first question, arising from this video presentation in the minds of most viewers, is why include failures in the mix. So, I take advantage of this public space to voice my explanation.

Going back to my college years, I remember our professors would spend hours walking us through the thought process of Italian design masters, the importance of form vs. function and the relevance of corporate identity.

In those days, we never talked about brands or branding; we talked about corporate identity. In retrospect, I now realize the importance of the term IDENTITY when defining the concept of brand building. At the end of the day, what makes a brand great is not branding per se, but rather the clear identity of those who create and manage that brand.

By now, you may already be asking yourselves what the above has to do with failure and with my video.

Let me use Blackberry as an example to illustrate my point. In the past three or four years, Blackberry has tried so intently to follow industry “trends” and mimic the iPhone that it ended up losing its identity along the way. This situation peaked last month when a glitch caused a global network crash. For those of us, already tired of “touch” not working on our Torch or of apps blocking “bold”, this malfunction was the last straw. Doomsayers online and jokes transmitted virally through bbm, blogs and the media added fuel to the fire. One of last decade’s most admired brands had failed. However, it is the company’s reaction to this failure that will show us whether Blackberry has a true corporate identity or simply a regulated logo.

Facing a considerable drop in RIM share value and deserted by hundreds of thousands of loyal Blackberry users, the company now has two options: a) continue trying to resemble the iPhone, other Android devices and the like or, b) my personal recommendation, fly low and stay under the radar for a couple of years (the product cycle in the cell phone industry), return to the drawing board and bring back to life what made Blackberry great: a phone focused on working performance, not play, like others do and, most importantly, a device that resembles no other, but itself.

This is what I mean by failure. All major brands have suffered huge blows. Remember Coca-Cola in the 80’s? Or Apple’s Newton years ago? What solidified their greatness was that they took failure as a learning experience, and they moved on without getting lost in an identity crisis.

I hope you enjoy the video I prepared for the owners and board members of an incredible brand called YEPEX. I also hope that this brand reaches the summit it deserves, because it represents a CLEAR IDENTITY striving to satisfy a very real need that can change the life of millions. And I want this brand to succeed because the owners of YEPEX have a vision, just like Steve Jobs from Apple or George Eastman from Kodak did when they started their journey, a vision that goes well beyond making money and that, despite occasional setbacks, keeps them on track. For my part, I truly thank them for allowing me to join their course.

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March 28th, 2012 4 Comments Branding / Pop Culture / Retail Branding / Uncategorized

  1. Gonzalo Antequera

    ¿tiene linkedin un “me guta”?
    Este artículo me gusta.

    April 9th, 2012 //
  2. ftpmumbojumbo

    Me alegra que te guste. Estamos arreglando la interfase para que puedas ponerle un “me gusta”. Aprecio mucho que lo leas y que te tomes el tiempo de comentar

    April 10th, 2012 //
  3. Kevin

    Hi Ester – great article! It’s something that I unfortunately know all too well as my company is also facing very similar challenges, and the solution isn’t yet explicitly clear.

    Ironically though, to me the solution at BlackBerry is – although I have a slightly different take on it than you do (BB is not the point of your article, I know): RIM’s soul and value was not centered on the phones themselves. What they’ve excelled at and should get focused on again is corporate communications integration and management.

    To be blunt, BlackBerry phones have always sucked. Their lifecycle is longer than other technologies. Their devices are big and heavy in comparison to the leading edge. They’re slow. But – they’ve always integrated very well into Corporate IT infrastructure with corporate-grade security. They’re easy to manage in that environment. They’re easy to deploy. THOSE are the skills they should focus on – not the clunky hardware that they’ve used to deliver that value to the companies (not individuals) they serve.

    So – drop hardware altogether, and focus on “Software as a Service” on other platforms – software to manage fleet-wide deployment and security, as well as integration with corporate infrastructure. I’ve been saying this for years, and interestingly just as they’re skidding to rock bottom they announced a software platform to help manage fleets of not only BlackBerry devices, but also iPhones and (I believe) Android phones as well. I hope they survive long enough to resurrect themselves in SaaS.

    Just my $0.02 from the bleachers… lets hope we can figure out our own challenges as clearly soon too. :)

    April 11th, 2012 //

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