How fast will the new “copy cat” Google smart phone fail?

Posted on Posted in Beloved Brands in the Market


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. jbareham_160926_1228_0206-1-0-0

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:

  1. 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!!!
  2. 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. strategic-thinking-2017-074Early 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.
  3. 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.
  4. If Google wants to bring emotion into the advertising, they have to pick the right emotional zones to own. positioning-2017-048Google 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.


To read more on Strategic Thinking, here is our training workshop that we run to help Marketers get smarter:


Beloved Brands: Who are we?

At Beloved Brands, we will make your brand stronger and your brand leaders smarter. We lead workshops to define your brand, helping you uncover a unique, own-able Brand Positioning Statement and an organizing Big Idea that transforms your brand’s DNA into a consumer-centric and winning brand reputation. We lead workshops to build a strategic Brand Plan that will optimize your resources and motivates everyone that touches the brand to follow the plan. We coach on Marketing execution, helping build programs that create a bond with your consumers, to ensure your investment drives growth on your brand. We will build a Brand Management Training Program, so you can unleash the full potential of your Marketing team, enabling them to contribute smart and exceptional Marketing work that drives brand growth. We cover strategic thinking, analytics, brand planning, brand positioning, creative briefs, customer marketing and marketing execution.


Beloved Brands Training program

At Beloved Brands, we can build a Brand Management Training Program, to unleash the full potential of your Marketing team

  • How to think strategically: We believe that Strategic Thinking is an essential foundation, to help Marketers ask big questions that challenge and focus brand decisions. We teach the value of asking good questions, using four interruptive questions to help frame your brand’s strategy, looking at your competitive position, your brand’s core strength, the connectivity with your consumer and the internal situation your brand faces.
  • Write smarter Brand Plans: We demonstrate how to write each component of the Brand Plan, looking at brand vision, purpose, values, goals, key Issues, strategies and tactics. We provide a full mock brand plan, with a framework for you to use on your own brand. We show how to build Marketing Execution plans as part of the overall brand plan, looking at a Brand Communications Plan, Innovation Plan, In-store plan and Experiential plan. This gives the strategic direction to everyone in the organization.
  • Create winning Brand Positioning Statements: We show how to write a classic Brand Positioning statement with four key elements: target market, competitive set, main benefit and reason to believe (RTBs). We then show how to build an Organizing Big Idea that leads every aspect of your brand, including promise, story, innovation, purchase moment and experience.
  • Write smarter Creative Briefs: The Creative Brief frames the strategy and positioning so your Agency can creatively express the brand promise through communication. The hands-on Creative Brief workshop explores best in class methods for writing the brief’s objective, target market, consumer insights, main message stimulus and the desired consumer response.
  • Be smarter at Brand Analytics: We show how to build a deep-dive business review on the brand, looking at the category, consumers, competitors, channels and brand. We start with the smart analytical principles that will challenge your thinking and help you gain more support by telling analytical stories through data. We teach how to turn your analysis into a presentation for management, showing the ideal presentation slide format.
  • Get better Marketing Execution: We provide Brand Leaders with tools and techniques for judging communication concepts from your agencies, as well as processes for making decisions and providing effective feedback. We teach how to make marketing decisions with the ABC’S, so you can choose great ads and reject bad ads looking at tools such as Attention (A), Branding (B), Communication (C) and Stickiness (S). We teach how to provide copy direction that inspires and challenges the agency to deliver great execution.
  • How to build Media Plans: We look at media as an investment and as a brand growth strategy, exploring various media options—both traditional and on-line. We bring a more consumer centric approach to media, aligning the media choices to where your consumer will be most likely to engage with your brand message. We look at all the types of Media through the lens of the Brand Leader, with advice on how to use traditional media options, such as TV, radio, newspaper, out-of-home and Modern media options such as digital, social and search.
  • Winning the Purchase Moment: We provide brand leaders with analytics, planning and decision making tools to help their instincts and judgement for moving consumers to purchase. Complete in-store business review, looking at categories, consumer shopping behavior, competitors, customers and the overall brand performance. We teach the basics of customer marketing planning, identifying the target consumer, in-store messages, strategies, tactics and project management. We look at the available tools for customer marketing including pricing, promotions, retail shelf management, merchandising and operational execution.

If you need any help, email me at


Did Apple just break the Steve Jobs golden rule?

Posted on Posted in Beloved Brands in the Market

Innovation is not easy. We all look for those blue ocean ideas and game-changers that no one else can see. Most times when see them, we get scared. They look so different. Will they work?  Who knows. Incremental Innovation is easy. It is comfortable, similar to what we did last year, so let’s pull the trigger because we know it will work. The original iPhone was a game-changer. It looked so different, that even the main competitor laughed about it. (There is video footage somewhere).

The beauty of the original iPhone is that it was intuitive in design, simple enough for anyone to use.  From a technical view, it wasn’t innovative at all. From the consumer view, it was the most innovative product of the century. It was merely a copy-cat product that was bundled together in a much smarter consumer way. While everyone else in the category was inventing cool things and spending lots of time figuring out how this would work with consumers, Apple figured out what the consumer wanted and then went and collected and bundled all the current technologies into one simple phone.


This statement is what made Steve Jobs a Marketer among scientists. He understood that everything a Marketer does has to start and end with the consumer in mind. For a Marketer like me, this is half common sense and half motivational that I can project to Marketers.

Let me whisper something quietly. The only real reason we have brands is because the brand owners believe that they can make more money from investing in a brand, than they could if they just sold the product alone. Jobs was a billionaire beyond belief. Yet, the beauty of Apple is that while they are the richest company on the planet, until this week, they never let anyone know that was their end goal. They have always been on the side of the consumer. Always living by the golden rule of Apple: “You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work back toward the technology. Not the other way around”.

No Headphone Jack

I have an iPhone 6, so I’m good for now. I am not seeing enough in the iPhone 7 that makes me want to jump. It’s purely an incremental play. Since I’m not in the market for a new phone, once I heard that it was fairly incremental, I barely paid attention. As I said above, pumping out incremental innovation is a necessity of business.

But then when I heard the new iPhone  did not have a headphone jack, I kinda cringed. There is no way the consumer was demanding that you get rid of the headphone jack. 

A couple of years ago, I started to see guys at the gym with headphones without a wire. What a great idea. That way it wouldn’t get in my way doing a bench press or on the elliptical machine. I went to the store and was like, “Woah, $100 more for wireless, I think I’ll wait”. Checking Best Buy’s website this morning, we can see that we can buy some nice Beats by Dr. Dre headphones for $129….

Screen Shot 2016-09-09 at 10.17.15 AM

While the same pair of WIRELESS headphones cost $229.

Screen Shot 2016-09-09 at 10.17.37 AM


I’m sure someone on the Apple team thinks this is a brilliant move: if we take away the headphone jack, we will make the entire planet go spend $229 on new headphones. That’s a bit like the bank that gave out a huge bonus to the person who came up with the 19.99% interest rate on your credit card, instead of 19.9%, because the extra decimal gave the bank made millions of dollars more. That is also brilliant. But both of these things are fairly disgusting. And almost too obvious that there is a complete “money grab”

Brand Plans 2016 Extract 2.001

The role of Marketing is to improve your brand HEALTH, which then can be stored and leveraged over time to drive longer term to drive more WEALTH for the brand. Sometimes, going after wealth in the short term, can actually take away from the overall heath of the brand. You have to believe that by driving the health that the wealth will come.

Apple’s lack of a headphone jack makes them look greedy for money. It is an annoyance to the consumers who love your brand. For those not willing to invest in new headphones, this is the solution that Apple is providing. Wow, that really just screams consumer friendly. It costs $40, and likely weighs 3x more than the phone. It will be great for consumers to carry that while they run.


It is completely fine for brands to make a lot of money. But the best Marketers never let consumers see that ugly side. And this one by Apple is pretty ugly. By the way, the Apple stock price first broke the $100 mark in September of 2012. Four years later, it is at trading at $104. It just might be time for Apple to invest in driving that brand health a bit higher.

I love Apple. I just want them to love me back.

Apple just failed big time, because they failed to start with the consumer experience and work back toward the technology. 

To read more on what makes a Beloved Brand, here is our workshop presentation:

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

At Beloved Brands, we promise that we will make your brand stronger and your brand leaders smarter. We can help you come up with your brand’s Brand Positioning, Big Idea and Brand Concept. We also can help create Brand Plans that everyone in your organization can follow and helps to focus your Marketing Execution. We provide a new way to look at Brand Management, that uses a provocative approach to align your brand to the sound fundamentals of brand management. We will make your team of Brand Leaders smarter so they can produce exceptional work that drives stronger brand results. We offer brand training on every subject in marketing, related to strategic thinking, analytics, brand planning, positioning, creative briefs, customer marketing and marketing execution.

Beloved Brands Training program

At Beloved Brands, we promise to make your team of BRAND LEADERS smarter, so they produce smarter work that drives stronger brand results.

  • How to think strategically: Strategic thinkers see “what if” questions before seeing solutions, mapping out a range of decision trees that intersect and connect by imagining how events will play out.
  • Write smarter Brand Plans: A good Brand Plan provides a road map for everyone in the organization to follow: sales, R&D, agencies, senior leaders, even the Brand Leader who writes the plan.
  • Create winning Brand Positioning Statements: The brand positioning statement sets up the brand’s promise to the consumer, impacting both external communication (advertising, PR or in-store) as well as internally with employees who deliver that promise.
  • Write smarter Creative Briefs: The brief helps focus the strategy so that all agencies can take key elements of the brand plan positioning to and express the brand promise through communication.
  • Be smarter at Brand Analytics: Before you dive into strategy, you have to dive into the brand’s performance metrics and look at every part of the business—category, consumers, competitors, channels and brand.
  • Get better Marketing Execution: Brand Leaders rely on agencies to execute. They need to know how to judge the work effectively to ensure they are making the best decisions on how to tell the story of the brand and express the brand’s promise.
  • How to build Media Plans: Workshop for brand leaders to help them make strategic decisions on media. We look at media as an investment, media as a strategy and the various media options—both traditional and on-line.
  • Winning the Purchase Moment: Brand Leaders need to know how to move consumers on the path to purchase, by gaining entry into their consumers mind, help them test and decide and then experience so they buy again and become a brand fan.

We will make your team of Brand Leaders smarter so they can produce exceptional work that drives stronger brand results. We offer brand training on every subject in marketing, related to strategic thinking, analytics, brand planning, positioning, creative briefs, customer marketing and marketing execution. 

To contact us, email us at or call us at 416-885-3911.You can also find us on Twitter @belovedbrands