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Microsoft: Building a Brand Without Really Trying

It'll be a short-ish RCPU today, but we'd like to lead off with a topic we'll come back to later in the week: Microsoft's marketing efforts. By now, you all know about Redmond's ad campaign shifting from Bill and Jerry to the very PC Guy Apple parodies so skillfully in its ads. More on that in future editions.

For today, though, we were shocked to see that a branding survey this week placed Microsoft as the No. 3 brand worldwide, behind only Coca-Cola and rival IBM. Now, there are a lot of branding surveys out there -- really, a whole lot -- and we understand that they take a lot more into account than just how clever a particular ad campaign is or how much a company gets hammered in the blogosphere.

So, the title of the entry might be a little harsh. Obviously, Microsoft has built a brand over the years through more than just advertising -- and it's a good thing, too, because Microsoft's ads have mostly been pretty lame, as have some of its business-targeted marketing campaigns. The new crop of consumer-oriented ads has promise, but there aren't many Microsoft plugs from over the years that stick in our minds as having been particularly effective.

Still, having 90-plus percent market share in what is still (for now) the most important category in the software market must have engendered some goodwill over the years. And, for partners, that's a good thing. After all, everybody's a consumer, even enterprise customers. If Microsoft's brand really is that strong, maybe Redmond should forget about spending hundreds of millions of dollars on advertising and focus on innovation and product marketing.

Of course, Microsoft's current ad campaign is mostly about trying to boost Vista, so dumping the ads might be the first step to Redmond dumping the forlorn OS altogether. And, really, that doesn't sound like that bad an idea.

Posted by Lee Pender on 09/23/2008 at 1:22 PM


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