Friday, June 28, 2013

Features do not differentiate brands

As product developers, we are obsessed with features. What can we add to our product and service to make sure we have everything the customer wants and needs – even those features they never knew they needed until we added them?

Features are great. Features are important. Features lead to benefits. Without relevant features there's no reason for anyone to buy our products.

But features do not differentiate brands.

You can get adaptive cruise control on a $25,000 Ford Fusion and a $205,000 Bentley Flying Spur.

You can get vibrating bristles on a $4 Oral-B toothbrush and a $100 Sonicare.

You can get a 15-inch HD display, Intel i7 processor and 500 GB of storage on a $1,300 HP Spectre and a $2,800 MacBook Pro.

The difference isn't the feature. It's in how each brand executes that feature. It's in the design, the materials, the experience, the positioning.

When Volvo touts its all-wheel drive system, it does so by saying that it makes you safer.

When BMW promotes all-wheel drive, it does so by saying it improves driving performance.

Features do not differentiate brands.

Brands differentiate features.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Smart is smart (in Germany)

From yesterday's post about a ridiculously overblown launch about a car that claims to be able to better mankind, here's a spot that makes a more believable promise in a fun, self-effacing and interesting way.

The Smart Car was built to do one thing, make city driving easier. This spot from Germany demonstrates that in an witty and memorable way. Maybe the Smart USA team can learn a thing or two from it and start doing a better job of marketing the car here in the US.

To paraphrase Michael Porter, the important part of strategy is knowing what not to do. Smart Germany understands that. Smart USA not so much.

When they stop trying to sell to so many and become everything to a select few and they will be much more successful.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A little humility, please

If this is all Honda has to attempt to revive the Acura brand, they're in big trouble.

Made For Mankind?

I get that great brands are built around higher order benefits. I get they they offer more than mere functional performance. I get that great brands are aspirational.

But this, this, this... is nothing other than a random collection of hackneyed images and a vapid promise with no discernable proof that it can possibly be delivered upon.

"Because if your quest is to build the world's smartest luxury SUV for mankind, you must hold yourself to the standard of mankind."

Neil Armstrong's first step on the moon. A cure for polio. A world peace initiative. Those are are the things that elevate themselves to a promise for the benefit of mankind. A very nice SUV, not so much.

If Acura wants to position itself as "The Smartest Luxury Automotive brand" than this is a pretty dumb way to go about it.