Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Herding and Branding

Marketing people have a concept they use known as "branding". As a capitalist and entrepreneur, I love the idea of branding. I'm impressed by anyone who can get otherwise intelligent people to pay $50 for a five dollar white underwear t-shirt by putting the name of their brand on it. That is really cool. I wish I could do that!

But with that said, as a consumer I find branding kind of insulting.

I suspect that Lexus, Toyota and Scion (all Toyota brands) do not represent 3 categories of car as much as they represent categories of marketing strategy. In other words, different people respond differently to different sales gimmicks. By creating 3 virtual car companies, Toyota can ensure that each person receives the exact sales message that works on them.

There is nothing inherently wrong with this kind of thing. Obviously it works on some people - maybe all people. But none the less, it's annoying to me - just as it's annoying when the used car salesman uses a cheap sales line on me.

IBM WebSphere
At one point WebSphere was a product (an app server). Then the marketing people at IBM thought: "How can we leverage the success of that product?" Their answer: Rename every other product to WebSphere. So IBM's IDE was renamed to WebSphere, IBM's messaging product was renamed to WebSphere, and so on. Yes. IBM really does think we are that stupid. Or perhaps their sales pitch isn't geared to the cats, but rather the cat herders. But in the end the word WebSphere, with so many meanings has no meaning at all. The whole WebSphere craziness just serves to confuse.

I think the biggest culprit of branding craziness has to be Sun. I am a Java specialist. It's all I do. Yet, I have no idea what the current version of Java is. We started with 1.0, then 1.1, then 1.2, then 1.3, 1.4,1.5 and 1.6. But then there is also Java 5 and Java 6. And what the hell is Java 2 (as in J2SE and J2EE)?

So now Sun is at it again. JavaFX (Sun's cool new programming language) is not a language - it's a brand. That means JavaFX could refer to a programming language or a mobile phone but it could also refer to a banana.