by Colin Jowell

The rapid pace of change is driving even the most traditional brands to reconsider the need for an innovation strategy. Companies are looking to technology to change the way their business operates, and then reflecting that change in their branding. Witness the recent rebrand of Accounting firm Ernst and Young to its more commonly used moniker in e-mail- “EY”.  This rebrand made headlines for all the wrong reasons (they are now stuck with the same brand as a Spanish, um, magazine). But it also brings into sharp focus a very important question: how important is it to maintain a sense of ones past when one is trying to project an image that is more forward looking and progressive?

The Relationship Mapping data suggests something unexpected but interesting: even if you are a technology brand, heritage and trust can play to your advantage.

Most technology brands, even the strong ones, sit in the “Aspirational Space” which we have defined as having a very strong “likely to recommend” score, but the tenure of usage or habit of using the brand is relatively low: this is unsurprising given how many new players there are in this industry. This explains why brands like Apple and Samsung have relatively lower strengths of habit to other brands in the study (and even some other technology brands). Little surprise then that Apple’s new commercials focus on the fact that more people do things like take pictures and listen to music with their devices than any other. This is a classic “trust” play. And trust is a key strategy if you want people to stay with your product for longer.

But the unexpected star of the show is Sony. While Sony’s overall engagement is behind the Apples and Samsungs of the world, it’s not by much. But when it comes to the 60plus age bracket, Sony is far ahead.  For this group, it’s a brand they actively advocate and continue to use: not bad considering that they would have bought a Walkman for their child as the must have Xmas gift of 1981.  Another strong performer is Microsoft: while you would expect there to be strong habits entrenched with customers, their engagement scores are strong enough to put them in the advocacy space.

The same cannot be said of brands like Hewlett Packard and Dell. (Dell’s engagement scores with men were some of the lowest in the study). So heritage is not enough to hang your hat on.

Things to think about:

  • If nostalgia and track record are valuable in the fickle technology industry, what can you do to leverage these assets in your business?
  • Relevant innovation is a great short cut for newer brands to get on the customers’ radar. What are you doing to be different?
  • Heritage and Innovation are complementary, not contradictory. Do you have a past to be proud of? If so, don’t throw it out in the quest to be seen as more progressive