Product or Brand? I think Product.
I was sent this wonderful article written by Al Ries http://adage.com/columns/article?article_id=138150 a few days back. It makes great reading. Read the rest of my blog, after reading that article.
You know why Sachin Tendulkar, Tiger Woods, Michael Schumacher, Roger Federer or Maradona are legends in their respective sport? Before they became icons, before they became brands, before they became legends, they were and continue to be THE BEST in their respective game. Period.
When competition came, when competition sometimes got better, these sportsmen always made a comeback because their foundation was excellent. They dug deep, corrected their flaws, bettered their technique and came back hard on their competition.
Everything else followed. Money, fame, them becoming brand icons in their sport. Everything. They became great brands, because fundamentally they were great products.
You can have the best marketing team in place, you can have the best advertising agency doing your ads, but in the end if you don’t have a good product, then it will all fall flat.
GM does not have good cars. Period. Their cars are not fuel efficient, neither are they stylish and nor are they as reliable as their European counterparts. And this is not perception. Its simple hard hitting reality. Their competition is better in at least 2 of the 3 above mentioned parameters.
Marketing is not going to help and neither is advertising. First build a reliable product which can stand up to competition. Once a good product is in place, everything else will follow. Their story, the brand, the marketing, the advertising et all…
The best brands are the best, because they have fantastic products to begin with. The brand, the perception about it, the advertising etc helped build it into the giants that they are today.
So I grudgingly disagree with Al Ries on only one count. To me the focus on product should be more important than focus on the Brand. People might buy brands, but if the brand does not live up to its promise or their expectation from the product then they will switch loyalties to a brand with a better product. (Note that I acknowledge that they will buy a brand and not a product).
It might sound like I have gone back 50 years in my thinking, but come to think of it, sometimes going back to the roots is probably for the better.