I say we are in for a long slow death. Kinda like Google +
I am a huge brand fan of both Apple and Google. And while I’m frustrated by the incremental innovation of Apple the last few years, I have to say I am in complete shock over the recent launch of the Google Pixel I am seeing. I was hoping for so much more. I was hoping it would be innovative, hoping it would be different and hoping it would be smarter. I was just hoping for something. Not more of the same. Sad.
I am an iPhone 6s plus user and I am likely your average smart phone consumer. I would say I basically want to know and nothing more. I have my email, my social media platforms, my Netflix, a few games and some useful apps. I know how to turn on Airplane mode and use my iPhone as my remote control during slide presentations. There is a cost to switching phones, and that is the feeling of stupidity you go through when everything is on the phone, just in different places. Prior to this phone I had used the Samsung Galaxy 3. I will admit any day that Samsung is the superior product. It’s just not very easy to use. The buttons aren’t in the right place. It might be smart for the total tech geek. It is just not intuitive for the mass consumer.
I was excited this week when I saw that a Google smart phone was being released. I watch their new TV ad a few times. And I still don’t get it. There is nothing in this ad that would suggest that the new Google phone is anything different. So I searched articles (using Google of course) to see if anyone on-line was talking about the differences between the iPhone and the new Google pixel phone. I even went as far as to read comparison charts. My conclusion: they have the same phone. Same size camera, same price, same size screen etc….They even look the same. So I went back and watch the TV ad again and again. Even the TV ad looks like an apple ad.
Only 357k views for that TV ad. That’s shockingly low from the company that owns YouTube? Wow. Plus Google has a history of making some damn fine ads in the past. I sure hope the agency didn’t talk them into the “be cool by being minimalist, as it will make consumers curious”. This ad isn’t different. It’s just plain boring.
Brands have four choices: better, different, cheaper or not around for very long.
Sadly for Google, this might just be like the launch of Google+. Lots of sizzle up front, but a slow fizzle on a long slow path towards a brand death.
Yes, I realize bed Google has tons of cash. They will likely gain some share from the audience that hates the other two companies: Samsung and Apple. This seems like the Gary Johnson approach to gaining a 5% market share. And Google just might gain a 5% share. But this isn’t going to revolutionize the smart phone category. Even if you are a huge Google brand fan, there is no way you are EXCITED about this launch.
Below is the Google Pixel launch video that tries to take a lot of the same Apple features and makes them seem “new”. It has already had 4.8 million views, suggesting there is a real appetite for something different. But people still can’t find the difference. Google “difference between Google Pixel and iPhone 7” and you will see tons of articles by experts that can’t figure out any real difference. Sure, the virtual reality might be different, but the consumers might not even be ready for that. And if you say, you want it, then you are not the average consumer. You would be in the 0.1% share category. Apple can use their quick-follower approach to have Virtual Reality into their phones by the time the mass market is ready.
I read in the industry papers that Google is going to go after Apple consumers. To do so, they need to take a real challenger brand mentality and turn Apple’s strengths into a potential weakness, while amplify their own strengths. Even though Google has been a tremendous innovator in the search area, they have done the me-too copy in a few different categories already. Gmail is pretty much the same as Outlook. Google+ is a poor man’s version of Facebook—with 3.5 million active Google+ users instead of the 1.7 billion Facebook users. Maybe Google is just throwing this Pixel launch out there hoping to get a few sales. But for consumers, that would truly suck, wouldn’t it?
Here are the flaws of Google’s launch:
- You cannot be loved until you are liked: With any new product, no matter who is launching, you must assume you are at the unknown/indifferent stage. Sure Google is beloved, but this new phone is still an unknown. You have to stand out so consumers see the brand in a crowded market place and you have to establish your brand in the consumer’s mind. The new Google Pixel ad looks isn’t very different at all, so it will not stand out and it fails to say anything that will make me understand their point of difference. I hope this is just a teaser. Or, I hope the new ads bombs very quickly and Google course corrects and can still maintain a successful launch. POINT OUT THE DIFFERENCES PLEASE!!! I REALLY WANT TO KNOW!!!
- Build on the strengths of your master brand: Google is a product-led brand while Apple is an idea-led brand. This new phone will never re-define the overall master brand so it would be wise to fit into the overall strategy. Google needs to establish your reputation as the superior brand in the category, defending against any challengers to your position. Continue to invest in Innovation to stay ahead of competitors, being the leader in technology, claims, and new formats. Early on, they should leverage product-focused mass communication, directly calling attention to the superiority and differences in your product versus the competitors. Use product reviews and key influencers to support your brand. Build the “how you do it” into your brand story, to re-enforce point of difference. Use rational selling to move consumers along the buying system.
- If you want to be a Challenger brand, then have the guts to act like one. The mistake that many brands make is trying to exploit your competitor’s weakness. While it seems the obvious victory, you are wasting your resources because consumers already know your competitors weakness. You are not altering their mind. A more powerful strategy is to attack your competitor’s strength and turn into a weakness, by making their strength either less important or interesting. You begin to change the consumer’s mind about your competitor. Google should go after the business market, and exploit the idea that Apple is a fun toy, but not a serious business machine. This would position Apple as cute and fun, but lacking in the substance needed you would get with an integrated package from Google. They may need to build in a more integrated platform.
- If Google wants to bring emotion into the advertising, they have to pick the right emotional zones to own. Google has a history of telling great stories around the knowledge and control space, while Apple usually targets the freedom and optimism space very well. This new ad for Google Pixel does a poor job in communicating knowledge. It looks like an Apple ad, because it tries to play in the fun/free space. I would prefer that Google show people benefiting from being smart, rather than benefiting from the escape of life. This Google ad below would be the type of ad would have been much better for the new Google phone. It is attention getting, about the brand, communicates the clear points of difference and it will stick in the consumer’s mind. Go back to your agency and get them to make that, rather than the crap you just released.
Let’s hope that Google hits control-alt-delete on their initial phase of the launch and comes up with a real product that can accelerate the incremental innovation we are seeing in the smartphone category.
I want the new Google phone to work. I’m just afraid it will fail and fail fast.
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