Friday, August 10, 2012

The product and the brand

As someone who has spent the better part of the last 15 years at the intersection between product development and marketing, I've too often witnessed the tension between the R&D teams and the marketing teams.

To many on the product side, branding is a veneer that's applied after the product is developed. To many on the marketing side products are just another asset in service of the brand.

In actuality, brands provide context for the product and their features, and products are the living, breathing manifestation of the brand.

Think about it. Every new car from Hyundai to BMW has pretty much the same standard feature list: power windows, ABS brakes, power steering, climate control, entertainment system, etc. Yet no one would argue that a Hyundai and BMW are the same car.

The difference?

The brand.

BMW is about quality, performance and a focus on driving. As such the features are developed and tuned to deliver on this promise, with fat, sticky tires, speed sensitive steering and more.

Hyundai is about affordable transportation for people who care more about the destination than the trip. Thus the materials are cheaper, the suspension a little softer, the engine a little less powerful.

The best companies know that marketing and product development aren't separate disciplines, but symbiotic activities that must work together to create a strong brand.

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