2014 August 10
This is from a June 07, 2005 post on my original Simplicity blog that a reader found still exists on the Wayback Machine here.
Brand is an inoperable asset for the customer. It doesn't make your product work any better. Although it does makes a potential consumer desire your product more.
Is it cheaper to improve a product's reliability and functionality? Or is it cheaper to improve a product's desirability? Considering the marginal costs of additional research and development, combined with production, testing, assurance, and so forth, the answer is fairly clear. Investing in advertising is a cost-effective way to increase the profit for an existing product. If the campaign is any good of course.
What determines "good"? Is it the copy? Is it the visuals? Is it the celebrity that has been chosen to be the head cheerleader? Seems like there are tons of subjective variables to consider that will ultimately define success or failure.
On second thought, maybe it is cheaper to make the product better. But nobody would know if it were any better without proper advertising.
Perhaps the one sure thing is to realize product improvements combined with a relevant degree of marketing. In essence, the proverbial "do both."
Do both. has been a recurring theme in my life just as much as Nike's Just Do it. Do I do X or Y? Both are extremely hard tasks. You would think that a good mentor would steer you in an efficient manner by telling you which to attack first. Turns out that all of my mentors (at least the ones I would respect) would damn me with the simple recommendation to Do both. Sure does solve a lot of problems. Kind of kills your personal life though ...