Branding Lessons from Joe Biden and Bill Gates

Joebiden Would-be presidential candidate Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware has shown us how to botch a brand rollout. Meanwhile, the predatory empire of Microsoft rolled out Vista to a warm response.  I learned the following lessons:

  1. During a brand roll-out, don't talk about the competition. Biden engaged in "blabbering bluster" about a competitor (Barack Obama) and put a favorable spotlight on the competitor.  When Microsoft rolled out Vista, it didn't say that it was obviously copying Apple.
  2. Word choice makes a big difference. Calling a competitor "the first mainstream African-American who is...clean..." is really obnoxious. You won't find any squirrelly quotes by Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates about minorities.
  3. Billgates_1 Communicate in a positive way.  Biden defended himself to reporters with a blaring TV in the background and a bad phone connection.  Then he explained himself on The Daily Show, a late-night cable-TV comedy show.  Darth Gates was on the same program earlier touting Vista, but amazingly, he came across as warm and funny.
  4. Don't call attention to your brand's weakness.  Biden has a reputation for being "politically undisciplined."  His announcement proved it was true.  In contrast, Vista was presented as a secure operating system, overlooking the fact the Windows XP needed multiple patches to keep out hackers.
  5. Don't give the media a chance to trot out your earlier mistakes.  Biden's fiasco gave the New York Times a chance to remind readers that he said in 2006: "you cannot go to a 7-Eleven or a Dunkin' Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent. I'm not joking."  Microsoft glowed about Vista saying "The 'Wow' starts now."  The technology press picked nits about Vista but generally omitted mention of how wretched Windows Me was.
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