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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Evangelism, and whats in a name

Came across this interesting blog on 'Evangelist Marketing'. How to create offerings that turn consumers into evangelists. Fine read for sure. While I agree with the author on many things, I do disagree on a couple of things.

Of course marketing plays a big role in the listed devices (iPod, iPhone, iPad, Kindle, Netflix) seeing evangelist movements, but a huge factor is also: Exclusivity. All these case-in-point devices showcased by Alex Goldfayn are essentially Category Creators. And what are the other devices we compare these with? Cameras and TVs. Exclusive? Heck not!

When early adopters and tech fans got their hands on the iPhones and Kindles first, they got the chance to tell other people about how radically different their new device was. And no doubt these evangelists loved doing it. But they love doing it only as long as its exclusive. See many iPhone evangelists these days in the US, with 50 million phones already in circulation? I thought not.

However, I think marketing often can play a strong role in creating high consumer excitement for even non-category-creator devices. I can only think of Apple here, but its still a strong example. The latest MacBook Air is not radical, but it is a product that does its job very very well. And look at how excited it is making some people. Apple has diligently gone about creating a cult around itself and is reaping the results. Other examples of brands achieving cult status? Harley Davidson. Porsche. Louis Vuitton. Creating a cult brand is not an easy task, and is as much about choosing not to play in certain areas, as it is about playing in certain areas. But lets not get there right now. A lot of firms can learn some elements of marketing from Apple if creating an entire cult brand is not their cup of tea. I am talking: Simplicity. The HBR article talks about this theme a bit; let me add my two cents.

The ipod was a clean product, but also one *with a clean name*. How easy is it to consider researching / buying an iPod Nano vs a Sony Walkman A Series NWZ-A844/T? And how easy is it to evangelize one of these products with friends? In ebook readers again, The Amazon Kindle is a product with a similarly simple name. I am not too tuned in to the Netflix service but I am sure all its options have got simple, catchy names.

Some food for thought as we conclude: We are now seeing even component makers catching on to the naming game. The Samsung Galaxy S (called I9000 earlier) runs a processor called Hummingbird. What was the original name? S5PC110. In response we have other phones running Snapdragon processors. The Android OS has versions which are deliciously called Froyo (Frozen Yoghurt), Gingerbread and Icecream Sandwich. The response? Windows Phone 7 has a version called Mango coming up. Keep cooking up the yummy names guys!

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