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Thread: brand identity?

  1. #1

    brand identity?

    I've been thinking a lot about brand identity lately. I know it's a huge deal to apple... "think different" sums up their company's "why" of doing business, and lets you know "who" they are and what they're about.

    With hosting companies, I feel this is important too. Any competitor can copy your features, but they can't copy your reason for existing, your "why", your "who".

    The thing is... a lot of the big hosting companies, I'm having a hard time from looking at their site and their marketing materials, getting a really solid idea about the who and why of what they're about. Softlayer is huge and successful, but everything I see is about specs and features, and nothing to really give you a feeling for "who" you would be doing business with.

    Rackspace is pretty obvious, "fanatical support" and a real focus on showing you the real people you might be working with. Liquidweb is more or less the same deal. But "who" is softlayer? "who" is hivelocity, "who" is burst.net?

    Any ideas on what you feel some of the larger company's brand identity is, I would greatly appreciate.

    For some background on why I'm thinking about this sort of thing, a couple videos for you:

    Simon Sinek: How great leaders inspire action
    http://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek...re_action.html

    Steve Jobs explaining what Apple is really about:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vmG9jzCHtSQ
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  2. #2
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    Even though you can shape your brand with the type of solutions your offer, support, pricing ect. Ultimately it's your customers talking about your business that establishes your true brand identity.

    rackspace is a fantastic example of a great brand identity
    Jon Black

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by eDedi View Post
    Ultimately it's your customers talking about your business that establishes your true brand identity.
    I think you have it backwards. I think it's your true brand identity that establishes your customers.
    Keith
    http://www.duvalltech.com/
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  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by kbduvall View Post
    I think you have it backwards. I think it's your true brand identity that establishes your customers.
    I would agree with that. Also, if the business doesn't have a sense of it's brand identity and doesn't communicate that to customers, how are customers expected to articulate it during word of mouth? They might be able to tell other people about the great things you do, but won't be able to say why they really like you, what sold them on you in the first place.
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  5. #5
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    Absolutely. People ultimately want to do business with a company they can identify with. We are social creatures who crave being around like minded people.

    Apple is a good example. Because of their brand identity, they have -- quite literally -- a cult following. Apple could put out a completely P.O.S. product, and people would still buy it in drones.

    You don't get that kind of following buy determining your brand identity from your customers. It's the innovators who impassion people to act... not the followers.
    Keith
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by kbduvall View Post
    I think you have it backwards. I think it's your true brand identity that establishes your customers.
    You can say your brand is "Strong", but what only matters is how your audience sees your brand, and if they say your brand is "Fast", then there it is, that's what you are. Now, if you don't want that and still be known as "Strong" then you can only try to influence them.
    If the perception they get is different from what you want, then the problem can be several factors like execution, strategy, etc. etc.

    So, "Your market decides what your brand is" doesn't mean they'll tell you what is your company going to be about..., noup, they tell you what already actually IS about for them once they are aware or experienced some contact with your brand, and that's reality, what YOU think about your brand is an illusion, is in your mind, what is in your audience's mind is reality, because is out there, so you make notes and check if the reality you created matches the reality you wanted.


    Quote Originally Posted by kbduvall View Post
    I think you have it backwards. I think it's your true brand identity that establishes your customers.
    This is true, but just means choosing the target market, then it's up to a correct strategy and execution to make the market have the right idea/perception of your brand, because they will decide what you end up being.
    Last edited by jagarco; 03-01-2011 at 01:48 AM.

  7. #7
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    To O.P.

    Ok, while your concern is correct about the importance of uniqueness and to be remarkable...,
    I'd say don't get too stressed out to have the "GREAT IDEA" all cleared out, as I think great ideas doesn't have naturally to be clearly impressive on the blue print, like, having a great Unique Proposition or key feature that establish a strong or solid advantage on your project...,

    because, sometimes, these key feature is not one or two... but... hundreds of little things that, put on blue print... looks just as another one in the bunch.. BUT is just ONLY in the execution and combination of these elements where the AWESOMENESS emerges..., is in the EXPERIENCE your brand offers, and by experience I mean from just seeing the logo or hearing the name, to the whole process.

    Imagine 20years ago, having a guy chatting about his project "Sandwiches with fresh ingredients, and this and that etc." or another one chatting about coffee shop, their projects may sound just as everyone else's, an then you have Fred Luca with his "SubWay" and Howard Schultz with "Starbucks"...., is just "Sandwiches" and "Coffee"!!, anyone can do that, but is the execution of lots of key elements what I think made them stand far away from the typical ones.

    Ok maybe a lot of $$$ on these two but the idea still applies without the money.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by jagarco View Post
    To O.P.

    Ok, while your concern is correct about the importance of uniqueness and to be remarkable...,
    I'd say don't get too stressed out to have the "GREAT IDEA" all cleared out, as I think great ideas doesn't have naturally to be clearly impressive on the blue print, like, having a great Unique Proposition or key feature that establish a strong or solid advantage on your project...,

    because, sometimes, these key feature is not one or two... but... hundreds of little things that, put on blue print... looks just as another one in the bunch.. BUT is just ONLY in the execution and combination of these elements where the AWESOMENESS emerges..., is in the EXPERIENCE your brand offers, and by experience I mean from just seeing the logo or hearing the name, to the whole process.

    Imagine 20years ago, having a guy chatting about his project "Sandwiches with fresh ingredients, and this and that etc." or another one chatting about coffee shop, their projects may sound just as everyone else's, an then you have Fred Luca with his "SubWay" and Howard Schultz with "Starbucks"...., is just "Sandwiches" and "Coffee"!!, anyone can do that, but is the execution of lots of key elements what I think made them stand far away from the typical ones.

    Ok maybe a lot of $$$ on these two but the idea still applies without the money.
    Ah but look at subway. "eat fresh", they keep it simple, and everything in their marketing and presentation plays to this theme, this identity. What you're about doesn't have to be impressive or amazing, but it needs to be clear.
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by funkywizard View Post
    Ah but look at subway. "eat fresh", they keep it simple, and everything in their marketing and presentation plays to this theme, this identity. What you're about doesn't have to be impressive or amazing, but it needs to be clear.
    Well I actually wasn't suggesting it has to be impressive or amazing, I was just referring to the process of "establishing the whole business idea" regardless of impressive or simple it sometimes doesn't have the intended perception in blue print as when executed.

    Regarding Subway, well yes they apply the "Eat fresh" approach but I don't think that the "Eat Fresh", which suggests they sell only Fresh and Healthy food, is a heavy key factor in the final perception their audience have with the experience, they may as well used "Always healthy" or etc.
    I didn't even now that was their slogan, and I'm a customer, which what I think counts.
    So what I think as a whole about Subway is a combination of elements like healthy, delicious, fast, no troubles, always the level of quality, etc. etc.

    Regarding having a concept or slogan to communicate well yes, is good to have it simple, is not all but is important to have it clear.
    I guess is just a matter of choosing what aspect of the brand one wants to point out.
    "Reliable"
    "Affordable"
    "Friendly"
    etc.

    And then, having a "cool", clever and indisputable way of saying it.

  10. #10
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    There are plenty of excellent books on branding. I would encourage everybody looking to make their mark in the hosting industry to start by reading about branding. Branding is often ignored by startups in the hosting industry, even though branding is a key to success. I would recommend reading "Brand Simple" and "Different".

    A good brand is like a desktop icon in the user's mind. Major brands such as Apple have mastered the field of branding.
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  11. #11
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    I think some people are confused about what he's talking about. He's not asking about how to differentiate, good execution practices, or quality of products. He's only talking about his brands identity.

    Sure, you can call me fast, strong, or anything else but either way, I am still Keith; I stand for strong integrity. That is WHO I am. That is my identity. No one else can change that, not even customers.

    It is his brand identity he's talking about.

    Quote Originally Posted by NoSupportLinuxHostin View Post
    I would recommend reading "Brand Simple" and "Different".
    Thanks for the book suggestions; I'll check them out. And yes, you are correct. Apple has mastered branding. They are in everyone's minds. Some are OK with that, and others are bitter towards Apple because of that.
    Keith
    http://www.duvalltech.com/
    "A web host who's as invested in the success of your online identity as you are!"

  12. #12
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    I was just pointing out the importance of the execution or strategy used to launch his Identity to his market.
    I may not answered how to get his identity but I was commenting something critical to consider once he gets his identity setup, his brand identity, which is useless without the right strategy or execution, because his market may end up having the wrong perception or idea of his brand.

    If he was referring to his slogan then ok, his slogan says what it says, but his slogan is not his brand, his brand is the whole deal, each and every point of his business that makes contact with his market, and in every contact he wants to communicate his identity correctly, what his brand wants to communicate needs to be "translated" in those contact points.

    any how, sorry to the OP for all the text I typed.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by jagarco View Post
    any how, sorry to the OP for all the text I typed.
    no problem

    the execution definitely has to be done properly for any of this to be any good, but articulating your identity is harder than it would seem, and definitely has to come first.

    To get this back on track to something specific, do you think anyone can articulate what they think the identity is for some of these larger hosts? I'm at a loss as to seeing what exactly many of them are trying to get across. If they don't have a well articulated identity, how did they get so large? Or am I missing something?

    Obviously rackspace and amazon have well articulated what they're "about", and it shows because people will pay a premium for what, from a strictly technical basis, and a commodity point of view, is clearly overpriced. But how about the other big players out there like softlayer? Or even some of the reasonably successful medium sized players? Do they have an identity that I'm not picking up on, or are they somehow successful despite not having a really well communicated identity?
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  14. #14
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    In my opinion, not having a clear explicit identity doesn't make it impossible to succeed, hence, I think, the companies you mention.

    I understand you know there are lot more factors that determine growth besides brand identity, but it seems you are discarding those other factors too much by giving "brand identity" the core ingredient role.

    Having a clear, well thought, designed identity is important to easy up the process of being accepted by the target market and works like an internal lighthouse showing the right route, but is just part of a strategy that includes more factors(quality, price, service, timing, competition, technology, originality, uniqueness, etc. etc.).

    So, when there are companies with no clear identity but there is growth I guess is because the other factors are good enough to achieve it..., but logically, having an identity strategy is a great plus.


    This reminds me when small towns had wealthy old local companies ran by families(not professional marketing gurus) who just relied in "Quality and Service"..., and because the town didn't have any other option, these businesses grew the old school way(without explicit brand identity design btw), then the corporations arrived much more marketing powered towards the market and most local businesses went bankrupt.

    geez!, sorry again for all this text, not sure how it gets too long so easily.

  15. #15
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    I honestly can't think of a single really large host (more than a million customers) that has really nailed their branding. Some have gotten large through lots of advertising and affiliate plans, but I cannot think of an example of a huge hosting firm that has perfected branding in the same way that Apple has.

    Some big hosts started with big money. GoDaddy is one that had lots of money before they signed up any web hosting customers. Their ads on TV during the Super Bowl will obviously appeal to end users who do not currently have any hosting account.

    Based on the lack of really good branding, I personally think some of the big players are vulnerable to properly branded startups. It may be a moot point given the fact that big players can purchase fast growing startups (look at EIG for example). Generally speaking, I think the really big players have yet to emerge.
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