Start Up Blog

Can boring brands create word of mouth?

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on March 8, 2010

This is the sixth of my crowd sourced blog entry ideas as suggested by Ben Rowe. Ben wanted to get my thoughts on the following: 

“Can boring brands and products create word of mouth?” Discuss.

In a word, no. But given the task is to discuss, I’d say the fact that matters here is the word emotion. Does a brand generate an emotional response from the audience. Does it generate passion and fervor?  Good or bad? If the response isn’t emotional. There will be no discussion.

The product or service may be very good, have a reasonable price and even be a market leader. Yes it may suffice or dominate it’s category, like cornflakes do as breakfast cereal, but I’m hardly about to email my brother with a link to the Kelloggs website.

We need to think about things that are emotional responses: Joy, Anger, Sadness, Elation, Fury, Disappointment, Love, Hate….

The heavy emotions every human is familiar with. A brand has to engender these type of emotional responses to get on the word of mouth agenda. Case in point is banks. They are seen to take advantage of their customers, and we have a strong distrust and hate for them. And even though the response is negative, it’s emotional and generates a great deal of discussion. That is, it’s not boring. It’s often the case that brands which have factional parties in the for and against camp (love / hate) generate the most word of mouth. Some recent examples of brands with this effect include:

Hummer

Krispy Kreme

Mac

Google

Will it blend

Cadbury Gorilla

All of these have been worth talking about. Our brand reputations as people wouldn’t be hindered if we mentioned these.

As far as start ups are concerned we should thinking less about trying to generate a viral campaign, and more about the emotional impact our offer has on our audience. Being new and innovative isn’t enough, it’s got to have an emotional impact on people. With boring brands we are simply indifferent, and so we just get on with our lives.

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Short memory – GFC

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on October 18, 2009

Reading the New York Times this weekend it seems clear that the Global Financial Crisis has not diminished the ability of investment bankers to extract bonuses from poorly performing assets and even losses.

I still believe that private profits should also result in private losses. I remember back last year having a discussion with a prominent Australian Venture Capitalist. He held a strong view that the bailout activities were justified, while my view was strongly opposed.

He said:

“If a child trips and skins its knee that’s fine, but there is no point letting it fall from a 10 story building. The consequences are too great”

I said:

“It’s not a child, they’re investment bankers. And maybe what we need right now is a few of them splattered on the sidewalk.”

My view has not changed.

But it seems the general populous has a short memory as the rot is returning very quickly. In fact, it might do both our economy and our environment good to let the current system bleed for a while. Why not allow time for new eco-friendly industries and  egalitarian reward systems arrive?

Startup Blog wonders what your think?

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