[Foundation-l] Rethinking Brands

Andrew Whitworth wknight8111 at hotmail.com
Wed May 9 15:20:44 UTC 2007

>>Short quiz for all the Americans on this list: what do Bounty, Dawn,
>>Pringles, Duracell and Lacoste have in common? If you think those are
>>all strong brand names, then you're right. But how many would know
>>that they all belong to the same company (Procter & Gamble)? I would
>>venture a guess that not too many do. Or at
>>least, to most people, it really doesn't matter. They don't buy the
>>products because P&G makes them. <snip>
>But I believe that is the problem we currently have! That list of brands
>don't market to the same target audiences, and they demonstrate few
>synergies between them so thay have no need to target similar markets
>directly, however eachof our 'products' *do* target the same people, and
>that means (imho) that we do need a much clearer "umbrella" to be visible
>'out there'.

I would venture to say that the people who are eating pringles likely need 
to use duracells and bounty on a daily basis too. The fact that the same 
people are consuming multiple brands of different products does not mean 
that those products should be marketed in the same way. Some of the people 
who use Wikibooks or Wikisource are likely to be looking up things in 
Wikipedia too. However, just because the same person may use multiple wikis 
doesnt mean that they should be marketed the same way, or to the same target 
audience. Microsoft doesnt call it's office software "Windows Office", even 
though Windows is the stronger brand and the software only runs on that 
platform. Two different products, even if they are used in conjunction and 
made by the same company, are not generally well suited to being branded the 

>A further example; Answers.com runs "WikiAnswers". If we stick ad absurdam
>with our "Wiki...." convention then how many people will think that
>"WikiAnswers" is one of ours, when it isn't.

Or the way everything with an "i" prefix sounds like it's from Apple? Prefix 
confusion is nothing new, but the fact that wikipedia is a wiki, and that 
wikibooks is also a wiki means that they both should get to use that prefix. 
The difference of course is that wikibooks is not a "-pedia" and trying to 
apply it to wikibooks will only create additional confusion.

Wikipedia has a domineering culture, and because it was the first project, 
many of the members there are in the habit of calling wikipedia simply 
"wiki". Notice how people refer to en.wikibooks to describe the english 
wikibooks, but nearly all wikimedians use the term "enwiki" to describe 
wikipedia. Doesnt help that this ambiguity is embedded in the software. The 
fact that the news media has picked up on wikipedian's jargon and refers to 
it as simply "wiki" is not so much a surprise as an obvious result.

>We've lost the battle to call everything "Wiki...." and for the general
>internet population to realise which is 'ours' and which isn't. It will be
>a shame to lose some of the name recognition that the non-WP projects have
>gained - though it is clearly minimal so far

There was a time when the name recognition for wikipedia was minimal too. 
Projects take time to grow, but as the statistics graphs each month show us, 
the other projects are growing, and growing at a good rate. If Wikibooks 
isn't as big as wikipedia right now, I am inclined to say it's just a 
function of time. Wikibooks has seen adoption in small steps as individual 
classrooms join the project, As adoption gets more common, I expect we will 
see a time when entire universities are looking to wikibooks for texts. 
Imagine if some of our elementary school texts are adopted by an entire 
school district, or even by an entire US state? With the price of textbooks, 
it's not hard to see a market among improverished inner-city schools for 
free textbooks. I'm also inclined to say, assuming the OLPC project takes 
off, that there are plenty of children in impoverished areas that would 
benefit from downloading their textbooks from us for free.

If everything goes our way (and admittedly this dream is some ways off) It's 
not hard to imagine Wikibooks growing like wildfire, but what we need is 
more help, more marketing, and more recognition for the brand we already 
have. Wikibooks is in a very important stage of growth right now, and 
rebranding us now would be detrimental.

--Andrew Whitworth

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