August 7th, 2014
Woody Allen had a funny standup bit in the ’60s, in which he suspected his appliances of conspiring against him while he slept.
We laughed at his neurotic scenario because it was impossible and idiotic. Technologists are now feverishly working to make it possible — and idiotic. Their dream is called Internet of Things.
Their dream demonstrates a total lack of branding expertise. I call it the Idiocy of Things.
Internet of Things (IoT: yes, it has a jargonized acronym) is yet another attempt by ardent techies to render people helpless and eliminate their privacy, and expose them to hacking, by connecting all their devices via the Internet. Have you always mused about your stove and shower talking to each other? IoT is for you. If you’re a sane adult, however, it isn’t.
Just this week, we learned that a Russian gang stole 1.5 billion passwords from hundreds of thousands of Websites. Shocking. Yet, the technologists will continue to exhort you to put more of your stuff in cyberspace. Obeying them is a sign of clouded judgment.
In Fast and Furious 6, the bad guys shot control-chip pods into the cars of Dom Toretto’s gang — to render them unusable, by remote control. The stunt worked; their cars crashed into glass-covered storefronts and offices. Replacement solution? Muscle cars from the ’70s. You see, all modern cars are computer-controlled and remotely hackable — including yours.
The Germans are now reverting to typewriters. Why? To evade the NSA spies. That’s right: old technology solves a new problem. Are you seeing the pattern here?
AT&T runs a spot on TV about visibility into one’s business, with cargo management as the example. Then, A&T claims it offers a solution. Good so far. Then, the voiceover artist tells us we have an Internet of Things. We do? What is that? Techies MUST throw nebulous jargon at us, because it soothes them.
Focus Is Destiny
Why do technologists keep pushing technology, keep trying to solve problems that don’t exist, keep creating new problems? Because they’re technologists. They focus on products and technologies, not on customers. They’re tunnel-vision zealots. They remind me of the father in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, who believed that Windex solved every problem.
Focus is destiny. If you focus on the customer, you will devote your energies and efforts to understanding the customer, solving her problems, and communicating effectively to her: This is branding. If you focus on your product, you’ll try to force-fit it into every situation under the sun, spew new jargon — and turn off customers: This is producting.
Parting Advice to CEOs
It is sheer idiocy to focus on your products and technologies — things — which, next year, will be obsolete. Don’t allow your company to do this. Your customers will not be obsolete next year. So, focus on understanding them and solving their problems in unique ways — and communicating to them in their language.
POSTSCRIPT #1: CES 2015: Internet Of Things Not All Shiny
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.
© 2014 Marc H. Rudov. All Rights Reserved.