Brand Conflicts: When Messaging does not Coincide with Reality

Last week I was in the local mall getting a jump on holiday shopping. I happened to be in one of the two malls that has opened a Microsoft Retail store. I was curious to see what it was like as I always enjoy browsing the Apple store.

My first reaction; what a blatant copy of the Apple store! The glass, the layout inside, the wandering employees, their version of the Genius Bar, etc. Here is a pic I shot from my iPhone (hehe) from outside the store.

Microsoft Store inside of Mission Viejo Mall

My second reaction was wow, they have the audacity to do it again, to copy Apple. It just never stops. The store does have a couple of cool things about it such as the Surface table and the wrap around screens on the wall that shift imagery from time to time. But what really struck me was the advertising immediately outside of the Microsoft store. When I left the store, below is the signage I ran into.

Microsoft signage outside of Microsoft store

Notice the main marketing message, “Be Original.” Hahahaha, give me a break. Who was the brainchild that decided to use this message? It’s just as bad as their TV spots that say, “I’m not cool enough for a Mac” (I’m paraphrasing here but that message was actually in a recent campaign). Here we have a blatant copy of the Apple store yet Microsoft is telling their customers to be original. Are people supposed to be original with Microsoft products that seem to be a copy of other products including their retail store experience? I think a much better message for them to use is “Be Resourceful.” This is a spin-doctor way of saying get things done by borrowing/copying/stealing with our products. “Be Original” is a message that directly contradicts the Microsoft culture and the experience I had with their retail environment. That is the Microsoft reality and their marketing team either is in denial or just does not care. Hmm, Be Original, maybe I should go buy a Windows laptop and start copying blog posts from other agencies and start posting them here. Maybe Microsoft would consider hiring us for creating some slick campaigns.

Let this be a lesson that when you are marketing your brand, check to make sure your messaging is in alignment with internal and external perceptions of your brand. Avoid situations like the above example when all your doing is creating jokes in the marketplace.

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