Branding Fail: How Microsoft Surface Bungled its NFL Branding Effort

A Key Question for all Small Business Owners (not to mention LARGE business owners): How are you Executing Your Branding Strategy?

A funny thing happened on the way to national exposure of a household name brand.

In a recent NFL preseason game, the broadcast team was talking to their sideline reporter about some of the nonsense that sideline reporters talk about (“Yes, Jim, we talked to the coach and he confirmed that it would be better if his team scored more points”. “Thanks, Bob”. Glad we got that out of the way).

At this point, the sideline reporter gestured to his prominently placed iPad, went over some plays and team info on it, then threw it back to the booth.

All three of the guys in the booth talked through some anecdotes about their experiences with iPads, their kids’ experiences, etc… Hilarity ensued, for all involved.

But there was a problem:

It wasn’t an iPad.

The sideline reporter had a Microsoft Surface tablet in his hand, and the broadcasters did a good job of pointing that out later in the broadcast, but the damage had been done. iPad got all of the pub that Microsoft paid for.

Get your Brand Messaging Right

“Predictable”, you might say, and you’d be right.

Since it is, you can bet that someone didn’t do their job along the line; either the Branding Agency, the reps at the game, the runners for the broadcast, or perhaps even the broadcasters themselves.

All that said, what lessons can you and I, the “small fry” Austin small business owners who can’t come anywhere near comparing to a behemoth like Microsoft or Apple, take from this?

It doesn’t matter if you’re a mom & pop small business owner, an SEO Agency, or a Content Marketing newbie, there are lessons here to be learned.

Know Thyself, Know Thine Enemy (Competitor)

First, know your product. A big part of knowing your product is knowing what and who you’re up against.

That’s why a good part of our Austin Sales Consulting service is Discovery; learning who you are, who your client is, as well as learning your competition.

If there is another product or service on the market that is a name that a prospect might “assume” into the conversation, you have to predict that and prepare for it.

In this case, Microsoft should have put out explicit instructions to every person in the chain of command ensuring that the hosts knew to call the tablet a Surface, and not an iPad.

I have a hard time believing that all of the professional broadcasters and support staff involved would have continued to go on and on about iPads if there had been a serious conversation beforehand covering the differences.

Watch this Free Branding Tutorial Video to see Another High Profile Branding Fail

What’s Your Branding Goal?

Second, understand what your goal is, and execute on that. This misstep aside, Microsoft should have a firm handle on the fact that it got into this game late (some would say too late) and these things are going to happen in such a situation.

Specifically, know that you’re product has nowhere near the same name recognition, so you need to work much harder to get the name, and the core value proposition, stated clearly.

Once a product has achieved “name status” (Kleenex, Coke, etc…), you’re fighting to be #2.

Pepsi’s branding strategy made a generational impact by owning the #2 position, and even reveling in it, but many Americans still call sodas Coke.

That doesn’t mean that you can’t carve out a nice market position for yourself in your demo and make a nice living. You just have to understand your position and behave as if that is true.

If appearances are accurate, Microsoft or its Branding Agency did not do this, and paid the price. 

If you have questions or want to point out gigantic gaps in my logic, hit me up on Twitter or LinkedIn!

Happy Marketing!

Sales and Seo, Value Proposition, Sales Process

2019-10-18T06:32:12-06:00 By |Branding|Comments Off on Branding Fail: How Microsoft Surface Bungled its NFL Branding Effort

About the Author:

I'm Kyle Bailey. I'm a sales consultant and SEO & Wordpress expert living in Austin, Tx and working with clients nationwide. I love helping clients, good Tex-Mex, and great music!