Does Microsoft Have A Branding Problem And Do They Need A Full Restart?
TL;DR: Microsoft has a problem with branding their products and they need to strategize better when naming their products or it could hurt them in the long run
Marketing and branding can sometimes make or break a product. Back when Android was coming up, the media space was bombarded with "Droid" ads and to this day, many people refer to a lot of their Android devices as "Droids" even though the name "Droid" is actually a Motorola product.
I've listened to a lot of discussions, heard a lot of podcasts and read a lot of pieces and now it's come to this: Does Microsoft have a branding problem and does it need to do a full restart to change perceptions?
Internet Explorer is constantly the butt of jokes among internet browsers. I use Google Chrome. I've used IE9. It's not as bad as previous versions. If Firefox or Chrome didn't exist, I can find no problem with going full IE9. But the previous scars caused by Internet Explorer have not been healed.
The word "Internet Explorer" is old. It's stuck in the past. It's from a different generation. A name change could do a lot. If I showed off IE9 or IE10 to people without telling them it was not Internet Explorer, what would be their reaction? I would like to see that experiment.
"Xbox" seems totally devoid of the whole Microsoft experience. It's like the team went off site, designed the product and released it. Yes, the origin of "Xbox" comes from "DirectX". But the whole experience of the Xbox doesn't make consumers think about that.
"Windows Phone". From the beginning, this was a terrible name to market to consumers. And to think, it was originally called "Windows Phone Series 7" (The marketing people who came up with that name should have been fired). 'Windows Phone" is still a terrible name. Attaching "Windows" to their smartphones was a bad idea. The name "Windows" reminds consumers of computers. Times have changed, the iPhone changed the perception that your smartphone doesn't need to be computer but a simplified personal device.
"Windows" has been firmly planted into the consumers head as a computer OS so why put that on your smartphone line? (Ballmer is at fault for this since he seems bent on putting Windows on Microsoft's product line)
Microsoft has done some good things with their other product lines. "Zune" and "Bing" are actually good product names. I even find the products themselves to be quite good. The Zune HD device and the Zune software are products I use on a daily basis. If I went to consumers and showed them off while saying they were made by Microsoft, some would find it hard to believe.
Bing is not as big as Google but it's a differentiating product with a different name and that's a good thing.
Branding can be a good thing for companies. But over branding can be bad at times. Microsoft (I think Ballmer) need to stop thinking that they need to put "Windows" on everything. It's working against them because unfortunately, the tech community and consumers as well have a certain perception of "Windows" and Microsoft.
"Xbox" is a perfect example of where I think Microsoft needs to go. It doesn't remind you anything of "Windows". Zune is the same way.
Microsoft seems to changing a bit. Metro is a breath of fresh air and totally different. The unification of Metro on Windows Phone, Xbox 360 and WIndows itself is a smart strategy.
But branding is a still a problem. It's an anchor that currently dragging down "Windows Phone". Nokia is a good help. The next Windows Phone OS update will help.
But in the long run, Microsoft should seriously consider changing the name of their smartphone OS. In the future, they should take more time in naming their products.