24 Aug 2012

What should Best Buy do to survive?…part deux

Raj Bhatt

I blogged recently about Best Buy’s problems and what I think it should do (click here).

Best Buy has come up with a new branding, service and store layout strategy in June (explained here in an Ad Age article).  Their new tagline is “Making technology work for you”. They will change store layouts to aid customer decision making using Central Knowledge Desks, and will move the Geek Squad to the front of the store.

I recently read a Fast Company article by David Brier, a brand identity expert, about Best Buy’s branding (click here). Here are some excerpts of the article:

Best Buy, your culture is about unloading inventory, not helping the customer. Taking a page from Apple’s retail strategy by adding “Central Knowledge Desks” will not replace doing something real and authentic. My personal experiences unfortunately have not changed what is inbred into your culture.
But let’s get more fundamental: That slogan is not only tired, it is a death sentence that is bland, old, worn, uninspired and not reflective of a single strand of your customer’s aspirations. It reeks of “marketing speak” and “committee-itis.”
The strongest brands stand for something as well being opposed something else…
  • Apple is opposed to technology that sets the rules and asks people to adapt; it champions technology that adapts to the needs of the people.
  • Nike stands for athletic achievement and is opposed to sitting on your ass.
  • Dyson stands for no loss of suction and is opposed to stagnant complacency, first making obsolete the old guards of vacuum cleaners and then doing the same with their own technological solutions.
.. Best Buy, what do you stand for? Also, what are you opposed to? Until you answer those questions, the likelihood of rising from the ashes is grim at best.

Only after answering those questions can you honestly determine what to sound like, what to look like, what your design aesthetic is, and why anyone should care.
And if the best you’ve got is “Making technology work for you,” then the likelihood anyone will care is very slim.
 I tend to agree with David that a brand needs to clearly communicate what it stands for and what it does not. It is one of the essentials of clear differentiation in the customers’ minds.

So how should Best Buy differentiate itself (and communicate what it does and does not stand for)?

As I discussed in the previous post, I think services should be a key part of Best Buy’s revival (and survival) strategy. I feel, they should be saying “We sell, install, maintain and replace (if broken) technology devices. We do not  just stock the devices and leave it up to you to figure out which product you need, and handle the shipping, unwrapping, installation, maintenance and replacement of the device (unlike our competitors).

I think “Making technology work for you” does capture parts of this message (and in this sense I disagree with David’s assessment). Maybe Best Buy can do better by reinforcing the full extent of the differentiation message in their commercials.

Let me know what you think.

Best Buy, brand identity, branding, communication, differentiation, survive


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