Motorola Chairman / CEO, Ed Zander had some harsh words for Apple regarding the
Simultaneous release of the iPod nano with the Motorola ROKR, but, more
Importantly, he had admonition for his own brand as well. Having a lot of previous
Success with the RAZR, the ultra sleek and stylish flip phone, Motorola believed it
Had permission to take the next step in production: phone + music. What Motorola
Failed to recognize is that brand permission relies upon the perspective of the
Customer, not product offering.
Zander publicly admitted, "People were looking for an iPod … we may have missed
The marketing message there. "The moment a small handheld device is paired with
ITunes, consumers expect no less than iPod. There is no replacement for the "sexy"
Design of the iPod, and with the release of the nano, an even thinner, elegant shape,
The ROKR was left looking "like another cell phone." RAZR was successful because it
Was a cell phone that challenged the design of cell phones; It was a brand that
Claimed, "you can do better." Consumers were even more disappointed when they
Discovered the ROKR only held 100 songs (because their iPods held at least ten
Times that much). In fact, research shows that the phone is being returned at a rate
Three to six times the industry average.
At a glance, the TV advertising for the ROKR was misleading as well. Actors in the
Commercials walked down the street listening to music while their shadows and
Reflections danced in the background. When the phone rang, the shadows and
Reflections returned to normal. While clever and pleasant to watch, the commercials
Mimicked the iPod / iTunes commercials very nearly, bringing the images of the black
Silhouettes against the simple colored screen backgrounds to mind. Immediately,
The customer set higher brand standards than the ROKR could ever achieve. The
Customer wanted iPod.
Even after selling a quarter of a million ROKR phones in the third quarter, the ROKR
Is still seen as a failure because customer beliefs and trends were not considered.
As a result, behaviors were not inspired to change. Motorola does not have the
Same permission of the iPod. IPod completely redefined an entire category (MP3s),
Becoming the must-have player player within the marketscape of electronics. In fact,
If the idea of phone + music was the real vision, iPod should have then branded a
Phone. In this case, the brand needs to be an iPod in order for the customer to feel
Important and identified. Motorola's focus was completely upon product benefits.
Motorola needs to understand that product offering is what it is; Brand is what the
At Stealing Share we heavily promote the concept of brand strategy over the table
Stakes of price, product attributes and sales propositions. Table stakes may work
For a short time, but often everyone makes the same offers, requests for the same
Amount of money and satisfies market demands in order to sincerely stay above
Water. Brand trumps this stagnant consumer cycle, adding personal connection,
Commitment and identification to the purchase decision. If Motorola had a stronger
Brand, or continued to create products more like the RAZR, sometimes the time would
Come when the brand was able to diversify into the music realm. Right now,
Motorola is a phone model offered by cell phone providers such as Sprint and
Verizon. Motorola would need a completely new position in order to break free from
A purely product-driven existence. Apple achieved a higher brand status upon the
Release of the iPod. With an actual brand identity in addition to a reputation for
Creative, innovative design, Apple was able to branch out and produce the iPod.
Brand is what allows difference and long-term loyalty; It allows iPod to be iPod
By no other name.
Soon, Apple Computer will get a taste of Motorola's predicament with iTunes, but
On an even larger scale with Intel processors. Incorporating the Intel Inside
Technology into Apple's model will prove both challenging and potentially
Dangerous to the Mac brand. What will Mac need to do with its brand messaging to
Include Intel, an already potent brand coursing through the market space? Will they
Need to downplay Intel in order to maintain the integrity of their brand? Or will Mac
Slowly converted to an Intel brand? It will be intriguing to see whether the Intel
Mac will be a ROKR, RAZR, or iPod. It is difficult to predict whether or not Mac is
Truly ready for this new addition.
Thus, the battle between brand and product is no fair fight. The success of a
Product remains in sales numbers while the success of brand expands into every
Fiber of the business and the consumer. Brand, by nature, will always have the upper
Hand because it does not stand alone or next to the competition. Brand is placed
Above product and category with an army of consumers to bolster its every
Movement within the market.