Cloud: The New Kleenex


Every day, one can hear someone exclaim: I put my photos in the cloud. What cloud? Where is it? What is it?

This common utterance proves that technology CEOs dismiss branding and, consequently, have genericized their products and companies.

Cloud is the new Kleenex.

There is no cloud, as I explained in both of my books on branding for CEOs, and in numerous articles and videos.

Instead of creating a unique brand that, for the moment, contains a remote-storage service, each CEO instead has allowed his marketing staff, PR firm, and ad agency to employ generic industry jargon to engage customers, investors, and reporters.
Kiss of Branding Death

Alas, upon hearing or reading generic jargon, these aforementioned constituencies cannot distinguish one vendor or offering from the other. And, when they, in turn, say cloud, as in the first paragraph above, they imply no vendor in particular — the kiss of branding death.

Does this stop CEOs from approving jargon-laced messaging? Never. Microsoft has been running TV spots touting its cloud service. This one is about cancer research.

There’s nothing unique about the word cloud. Worse, it isn’t unique to Microsoft. We’re left wondering what value Microsoft adds to cancer research, because cloud — a meaningless word — is what we’re told to remember. Microsoft violates every branding rule.

That’s why cloud is the new Kleenex.

In 1924, Neenah, Wisconsin-based Kimberly-Clark trademarked Kleenex® as a disposable face-towel for removing cold-cream and makeup. Although a legally recognized trademark, Kleenex has become generic for facial tissue, to the consternation of shareholders.

Nothing hurts a brand more than when it becomes generic. But, when companies begin with generic jargon, instead of unique brands, they are opaque and indistinguishable right out of the blocks. Generic and commodity go hand-in-hand.
Parting Advice to CEOs

Employing generic jargon races your company to commodity status; it violates your fiduciary duty to your shareholders: you are purposely minimizing their wealth. If such an admonition hurts your feelings, may I suggest a Kleenex to dry your eyes.

A weak brand, caused by lots of jargon, increases your costs of sales, capital, and media.

Branding is your #1 priority. Start today, the first day of 2016.


About the Author

Marc Rudov is a branding advisor to CEOs,
producer of MarcRudovTV, and author of two books:
Brand Is Destiny: The Ultimate Bottom Line
Be Unique or Be Ignored: The CEO’s Guide to Branding.


© 2016 Marc H. Rudov. All Rights Reserved.


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