“Product Brands” are hard to leverage even in a new industry. Heck, they are hard to leverage even within the same niche. Apple, the computer company, sells more iPods than Sony, which invented the Walkman, can sell its MP3 player. How many of us would care for BMW car audio products, Dunkin Donuts pizza, or Nike designer wear?
However, product brands are the easiest to create – relatively speaking, of course.
Create one superlative product – something new, or repackage something old – do it brilliantly regardless. Think of something no one else has thought of, a way to make something faster, look cooler, sound better; sell it yourself, or sell it all to someone else and walk away. One Purple Cow is all you need.
And you milk it for all its worth.
“Corporate Brands”, on the other hand, are a lot harder to create – and sustain. Everything – or almost everything – you create should be a purple cow, constantly churn out raving fans. Deliver “good” instead of “awesome” even half the time, and you risk ending up like Robert de Niro. It is a lot easier to be Los Del Rio than to be U2; lot easier to be Pat Cash than Pete Sampras; lot easier to be Broadcast.com than be Yahoo!
Product brands are easier to spin off – and to takeover too, which could be good or bad depending on whether you built it strategically with the idea of selling it off. However, established corporate brands are relatively tough to takeover too. They are too big, too well established, too “branded”.
“Individual brands” are the hardest to create – even harder to sustain. You can’t hire a team of really talented people on whose back you can ride, unlike the CEO of a large corporation. It is all about you, most of the time.
You create yourself. And destroy yourself too – Iron Mike, Michael Jackson, (rest in peace) Manigault (“The Goat”). You can’t change your name and move to Alabama. Firestone could eventually make a come back, but probably not Winona Ryder. (Ok, maybe Kobe Bryant will succeed, but basketball is an abherration, IMHO).
“Individual brands” are destroyed as fast as they can be created. And they’re virtually impossible to sell and walk away into retirement. Your legacy stops when you quit – unless you are a royalty earner.
Isiah Thomas stopped making money when he stopped playing – till he started coaching again; he stopped making money as a coach – till the Knicks hired him. Eventually, he will stop getting those paychecks too. Then what? His talents as a player, coach or GM won’t be worth anything in retirement.
But the legend of Elvis earns him $100 million, 26 years after he died.
But then, not everyone is born to be the king.
To be continued…