Cloud Computing: Branding Fog


When a product has inherent value and its leading purveyor brands it properly, customers will grasp and demand it instantly. Otherwise, “educational” seminars begin sprouting like weeds to fill the void. The latest example of foggy branding is cloud computing.

For the unindoctrinated, the “cloud” is technospeak for the amorphous, nebulous blob that encompasses the Internet and all its working parts. When engineers draw network diagrams, they depict the vast Internet, literally, as a cloud.

John Gage, the fifth employee of Sun Microsystems, is credited with coining the phrase “the network is the computer.” Perhaps, if you’re selling Sun servers. But, do customers view it that way? With cyberspies hacking the US’s electrical grid, maybe not.

Since the dawn of computing, there’s been a periodic swing between remote computing, once called timesharing, and on-premises computing. Cloud computing is the latest incarnation of remote computing — the software, numbercrunching, and network resources external to the customer’s walls.

Ultimately, end-users will gravitate to the incarnation du jour that satisfies their selfish interests — the one they can understand, afford, and control.
Irrepressible Urge

Technologists, unfortunately, have an irrepressible urge to use their vernacular in branding, as if the whole world gets buzzed by buzzwords. We’ve seen this, for example, with Web 2.0, a concept nobody can define. No surprise there are lots of Web 2.0 seminars.

It matters not how “cool” cloud computing might be or how much it excites the various vendors selling it. What matters is whether cloud computing makes sense to a large audience in 15 seconds. It doesn’t, and the number of seminars explaining it is inversely proportional to its visceral appeal.
Five Key Concerns of CEOs with Each Technology Purchase:

  1. We understand, explicitly and implicitly, what it is and why we purchased it
  2. It increases our customer satisfaction and profitability
  3. It makes our internal operations more efficient, effective, and economic
  4. We feel safe with and in control of it — regardless of who runs our IT department
  5. It won’t be obsolete in two years.

Failure to incorporate the aforementioned in product naming and messaging will lead to massive customer confusion and resistance. In other words, branding failure.
Rx from The WhiteNoise Doctor™

Remember Rudov’s Rule: You can’t build a brand they don’t understand. What’s more unfathomable and undefinable than a cloud? Very little. Yet, network execs, like Marc Benioff of, are using it as a branding platform and a competitive weapon. How does this help any potential customer?

A cloud is meaningless to people; it is nebulous and unclear. A cloud is fog. Fog blocks our views of beautiful landscapes and causes shipwrecks, plane crashes, and car accidents.

Why, all of a sudden, will “cloud” become crystal clear when computing is tacked onto it? It won’t. This is a futile exercise in branding fog!

Unless customers see solutions messaged in their language, in unambiguous terms, they will resist or ignore them. Should anyone have to attend a third-party seminar to understand your offering? Never.

If you want your revenues to hit the stratosphere, get your head out of the cloud.
POSTSCRIPT #1: Amazon’s Cloud Disaster Permanently Destroyed Customer Data

POSTSCRIPT #2: Hackers Shift Attacks to Small Firms

POSTSCRIPT #3: Nokia’s Developer Site Hacked, User Data Compromised

POSTSCRIPT #4: Cloud Security Is Looking Overcast

POSTSCRIPT #5: What You Shouldn’t Store in the Cloud

POSTSCRIPT #6: Hackers Zap Zappos

POSTSCRIPT #7: Hackers Steal 500K Passwords From Yahoo

POSTSCRIPT #8: Wozniak Says the Cloud Is Horrendous


About the Author

Marc Rudov is a branding advisor to CEOs,
producer of MarcRudovTV, and author of the book,
Be Unique or Be Ignored: The CEO’s Guide to Branding.


© 2009 Marc H. Rudov. All Rights Reserved.


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One Response to “Cloud Computing: Branding Fog”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Marc, as always, you are right on. if anyone wants to reach the famous “customer”, they need to use the language and expressions the customer understands and realizes, he has a need or desire for.
    Keep your messages coming !