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Brands and Categories

Laura Ries makes two primary points in her recent blog entry:
  1. If your product is innovative or the established brand leader, it should own not just a word or idea in the mind of the customer, but should also "own" the category itself. I.e., customers and prospects should equate or strongly associate the category with the product.
  2. If your product owns a dying category and you introduce a new product in new or healthy category, don't put the new product under the same brand umbrella. Instead, create an entirely new brand.
Some choice quotes:
[L]eaders many times become the generic for that category. The brand becomes a short-hand device for talking about and asking for a particular category.

Kodak is not in trouble because people don't love the Kodak brand anymore. Kodak is in trouble because people don't use conventional film cameras anymore. Moving Kodak to the digital category makes no sense at all.

When your brand owns a category in the mind and your category is in trouble, you need to launch a new brand. You can't save your brand by moving it to a new category.
Ries' entry, as usual, contains many examples to demonstrate her points.

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