Jeff Bezos is a branding bozo

first_imgI love Jeff Bezos. I really do love him, but not for any reason you’re likely to guess. I love Jeff Bezos because I speak and write quite a bit about branding, and I’m always looking for examples to use as fodder for my witty commentary. One of my favorite topics is brand extension, and as if they were manna from heaven, Jeff Bezos and Amazon provide the perfect example of what not to do.For anyone unfamiliar with the term, brand extension is leveraging the strength of your brand in one product or product group to extend your business into other products. For example, Orville Redenbacher’s has been a very well-established and admired brand of traditional popcorn for as long as I can remember. So it makes sense that over the years, ConAgra has extended that brand to include microwave popcorn and popcorn oil. It all fits because it’s all popcorn, right?Then you have Amazon. Amazon started in 1994 as an online bookseller and eventually made the leap to general retailer in 1999. At the time, the thought of buying power tools from a bookstore struck me as a little odd, but Amazon pulled it off. That particular brand extension worked.In the ensuing years, however, Amazon has extended its brand in some truly ridiculous directions. The company got into tablets, smartphones, cloud computing, diapers, video on demand, groceries, and most recently, student loans. Keep in mind, that’s only a partial list. It’s brand extension run amok.Is Amazon an electronics company? A cloud company? A diaper company? A video company? A grocery company? A student loan company? No, Amazon still has an extremely strong brand, but only as an online retailer. (And if you’re a community financial institution that’s in the student loan business, I promise Amazon’s foray into student loans is no threat to you.) The rest of this stuff does nothing to help the Amazon brand. In fact, I’d argue that it actually weakens the brand.If Amazon becomes addicted to being the me-too brand for every imaginable product and service under the sun, it risks losing sight of its core business. Then someone with a little more focus will come along and clean Amazon’s clock.Jeff Bezos himself said it best: “There’s nothing about our model that can’t be copied over time. But you know, McDonald’s got copied. And it still built a huge, multibillion-dollar company. A lot of it comes down to the brand name. Brand names are more important online than they are in the physical world.”The thing that Bezos has failed to grasp is that McDonald’s stuck to burgers and fries, and would surely never dream of selling you diapers.The lesson here is that just because you can extend your brand into something new, that doesn’t necessarily mean you should extend your brand into something new. When it comes to brand extension, don’t be a Jeff; be an Orville. 22SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,John San Filippo John is the co-founder of OmniChannel Communications, Inc., a company that specializes in B2B marketing to community financial institutions. He started out in the savings and loan industry, but wisely … Web: Detailslast_img

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