REDBAND: Stick to what you are good at! By Mark Coxon

It’s a rainy Monday in SoCal and I had designs on creating a RedBand post today, but I wasn’t exactly sure what it was going to be on.  I had some ideas, but nothing that really made me open up MS Word and start typing.  That was until I read this article in a magazine called “InAVate” an obvious play on the idea of AV Innovation, of which the article ironically had no hint of relating.

Coupled with the beginnings of a long line of bad reviews on Google Glass and some lingering ideas about brand extension I got from reading Jack Trout, I knew what I had to share.

There is an old joke that asks- “How many software engineers does it take to screw in a light bulb?”

The answer. . . “None, it’s a Hardware problem.”

Software engineers know the extents of their realm of expertise, or at least they should, as should we all.  Is it really surprising that Google Glass is getting some bad reviews?  Of course their initial hardware offerings are going to leave quite a bit to be desired.  You may say, well they created Android, and you’d be right.  Android is first and foremost though, a piece of code, and the companies that have leveraged that code with a great deal of success are Motorola, Samsung, and HTC.  They have reputations and market share to uphold in the hardware arena, and probably would have been a better fit to produce glass than Google with its Foxconn relationship.

In the same way, Crestron has little to offer the world with another pair of speakers that are probably offshored at the same factory that produces their competitive counterparts.   They are not known for audio, but for code, and again that is where they should focus their efforts, even if Apple has been taking a chunk out of their touch panel business.

Sticking to what you are good at makes a lot of sense, not only in maximizing the practical skillsets and abilities your company has spent so much time and energy developing, but also because many times it is too hard to earn that spot in the customer’s mind, even if your product somehow turns out to be good.

Offerings like the two mentioned above rarely work, argues Marketing Maven Jack Trout, as the new product does not ring true with the space the brand already occupies in the mind of the consumer, and the product fails and sometimes even damages the core product as a result.

One example he gives is that LifeSavers gum was a horrible failure, as it had nothing to do with the hard, round, candy with a hole in the middle, that consumers thought of when they heard “LifeSavers”.  Yet when they later introduced “Bubble Yum”, it was a wild success.  The capacity for making gum didn’t really change, but they were no longer paradoxically ‘anchored’ by the very LifeSavers brand that was meant to ‘buoy’ the new product.

I think we all know that this argument intuitively makes sense.  I follow this rule with every restaurant I visit.  If I got to a steakhouse I have steak, if I go to a crab shack, I order crab, and if I go to Bob’s Pulled Pork Po Boys (not a real restaurant but I’d eat there if it was), you can bet I’d order the restaurant’s namesake.

Sticking to what you are good at clears the muddy waters, it allows for the best chance of success, and it eliminates confusing your clients, by diluting the value of what you do really well.  In a world of some many great companies, there is much more value in acquisition or in partnership, than there is in extending your brand into categories you add little value to.

Do you agree?  If so or especially if NOT, please chime in below.

Mark C.

REDBAND_Coxon Mark has been in the IT & AV field for over 12 years. He currently works as an Account manager with  Horizon Display and is a contributor with Commercial Integrator magazine. You can follow Mark on Twitter @AVPhenom.  The expressed opinions are his own…You have been warned.

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