How about disposable brands? ~ Brand Mix

Thursday, December 4, 2008

How about disposable brands?

Here's an idea that may need to be shot down in flames: Disposable brands.

The Pitch: Some businesses are becoming more and more fashion-driven. Think of cell phones, for example. It's a constant barrage of new products each fighting for a share of attention and each rapidly becoming old news. In such an environment, disposable brands (brands with intentionally limited lives) may be the answer. The LG chocolate phone may be a current example.

The advantage: Disposable brands can be optimized and positioned against very specific marketing opportunities without worrying about the future consequences. For example, it's normally the death of a brand to be associated with a particular technology or a fleeting market trend because sooner or later that technology or trend will be gone. With disposable brands, it doesn't matter. They will be too.

The downside: There's the question of waste. All those marketing dollars spent against a brand that won't be around next year? It's a valid concern but the money won't necessarily be wasted. If disposable brands are connected to/endorsed by the parent brand, the relevance and differentiation that they spark will feed back and energize the parent brand.

Disposable vs. Platform: Why not create platform brands that can exist through many generations of innovation? Plenty of examples of these from car brands (Toyota Camry) to laptops (Dell Latitude). This may be the right answer but platform brands have their own problems. For example, once established, the temptation to keep them going and going to leverage previous investment is tough to resist making it very difficult to kill them even when they've lost their relevance (Sony Walkman?).

An analogy: Most new movies are one-offs. The movie industry does create platforms (aka sequels) but it's rare for a series to go beyond a third iteration. There was a Rocky 6 (Rocky Balboa) and, of course, there is the Bond franchise (now up to #22 with Quantum of Solace).

Summing up: Disposable brands:
1) Disposable brands may be a viable option in categories are fashion, trend and/or technologically driven.
2) They need to to endorsed by/connected to the parent brands so that the parent brands benefit from the relevance and differentiation they generate and marketing waste is reduced.
3) Platform brands will often be the better approach.
4) It's time for the 007 series to end.


Anonymous said...

Like restaurants or dance clubs that change themes without changing ownership. Some of these business owners use this as a strategy to stay "hip."

Derrick Daye said...
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