Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Brand as Software

When Sega and Nintendo were battling it out to be the best 16bit console it was not a fight between the two systems. Although some people who know more than me will be able to explain the pros and cons of the hardware alone, to most people it was all about the software. Did you want to play with Sonic or with Mario. This was not a simple question of which of the two characters had an image that attracted you more, they were part of the package which affected how much fun you would have with your console. The basis of the whole experience that mediated the product and showed you what it could do.

So any console developer would be foolhardy to develop a great console without ensuring that the software that came with it and in fact sold it in a market situation of parity was top notch. Again I am sure that people who know more than me would have a couple of great examples of where this happened – I seem to remember a console by Commadore that had no games for it.

Anyhow would this model benefit product developers and brand builders if they sat down and had these same conversations that console developers have about software and hardware. For example if you sat down and thought about the brand-software that comes with a running shoe then you would probably end up with something like Nike +. Or if you thought about the software that comes with a cartoon you could probably get closer to the many faceted world of Pokemon. The software that goes with a TV show would probably look like all the PR coverage and phone voting mechanisms of the X factor.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this to brand owner companies would be the fact that all of the above are money-spinners. Charging for the marketing… is that not the Holy Grail? If a product was always considered to be the hardware and the brand the software that goes with it, then it is likely that the branding would take on a life of its own as a viable reason to buy the product, a point of difference.

What would the software of a hit record be (aside from the music video)?
What would the software of a train journey look like (as I am on a train right now)
What would the software of a can of coke look like?

I’m going to have a think…

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