Microsoft finds the brand sauce…finally

I’m pleased as punch about Microsoft’s new branding directions lately. They are finally starting to connect on an emotional level with some consistency across their consumer products. Hurrah!

OK, I’m not on drugs: I know they don’t necessarily have the rabid fans of Apple. but they are making strides for a company that has previously made all their consumer products feel disconnected (and with poor, confusing names, I might add – but that’s for another post).

After their success with Windows 7 “My Idea” campaign, which showed how users just want technologies to fit our lives and be what WE need them to be, they continued those efforts with Bing. Presenting Bing not just as another Google, but as an alternative to every search engine by being more about finding the right answer versus “search overload proved effective, believable and got people talking.  Bing is indeed a different experience from Google. May not tear Google die-hards away, but their point was not to do that. It was to provide the alternative to those looking for one; for those who were not getting the experience they wanted from Google.

Now Microsoft will be launching it’s brand new Windows 7 phone. A bit late to the party? Hell yes. But from all accounts, I’ve heard this will be pretty sweet indeed. And they were smart about it. Their brand campaign will not be about “another smartphone:” It’s not about competing with the existing phones on the market – Blackberry, iPhone, and Android – but about turning the entire way we look at all smartphones on its head. According to a recent article in the Puget Sound Business Journal. it’s a commentary on our “culture of mobile distraction”. Ads will show horrible predicaments caused by people lost in their phones, texting, playing games, etc and the consequences of that. Then it will present Windows 7 phones as being able to “get you in, and out, and back to life.”

When others zig, sometimes you have no choice but to zag.

Microsoft knows they need to stand out. They need to be a bit edgy, a bit devil’s advocate, because they are lagging in this market. But I for one feel like their brand efforts are finally going in the right direction and are beginning to uniformly stand for something: making technology work for us, not the other way around. We shall see if this new brand effort actually delivers on its promise.

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