Category Archives: Brands & branding

brands, branding, rebranding, brand value

Red Bull Mobile Network Australia

Red Bull Mobile AustraliaRed Bull has been busy extending their brand into the GSM mobile space globally. The next step on the path to world domination is Australia.

Technically they are mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) just like Virgin Mobile, which means they sell access to an existing network with their own branding and price structure.

Virgin Mobile would be the only other similar brand in that space in Australia. I think it’s a move worth making. The costs of becoming a MVNO are relatively low for a global brand but they get instant brand recognition in the new market. This is a great brand extension policy.

Red Bull have added to that by using social media to get the word out. I’ve got  a free SIM card from Red Bull Australia because I am an account at Klout. If you are quick and in Australia you can also get a free Red Bull Australia Mobile SIM.

The customer acquisition cost of this strategy has got to be ridiculously cheap. Compare what it would cost You&Me Inc to attract young brand aware consumers to a new mobile phone network.

If that link worked for you, and you got a free SIM, please comment below, and a like, +1 or other thanks would be appreciated.

Update 20 Aug 2011 @13:00:

A third party, Aggregato, will provide retail sales and distribution management and customer service support for Red Bull MOBILE.

Aggregato owns GRL Mobile who are rebranding as Red Bull MOBILE from 7 September according to this news announcement.

That reinforces my point about customer acquisition costs. GRLmobile’s total customer acquisition spend will rise under this deal, but their cost per customer acquisition will go down. Customers don’t have to overcome the “who are they?” question

Red Bull may only be taking a licensing fee for all I know, but given Red Bull Mobile’s international rollout,  it seems like they’ve put some resources behind establishing their brand in the mobile space.

Trademark, Copyright and Intellectual Property

People get confused between copyright and trademarks. The area of law is called Intellectual Property (IP).

Copyright protects the expression of an idea. This includes spoken, written and audio-visual expressions. Hence books, movies, documentaries, photos, recordings, paintings, articles, drawings, poems, songs and music are all covered by copyright (subject to the creators jurisdiction).

Trademarks (and service marks) are a distinctive sign, logo, word,  phrase or indicator used to indicate a good or service comes from a specific individual, company or group as opposed to some other source. It is designed to give consumers confidence in the quality and reputation of a good or service.

Many people say “Monster cable” is copyrighted when they actually mean it’s trademarked.

Trademarks were invented to prevent unscrupulous merchants passing off an inferior tradesman’s work for a more reputable work. So master tradesmen would make their mark on the item they’d made indicating they had approved it’s quality and finish, much like a master painter signs his work.

Really good and expensive work attracts counterfeits. Wanna purchase a watch?

Trademarks don’t have to be registered, but it’s a good idea. Then other similar trademark holders can object and everyone does the intellectual property dance.

It is supposed to be nearly impossible to trademark something generic such as the word “Elite”, but large IP practices seem to get them registered. Often a registration is canceled  on appeal for being too generic or if found to be in broad use by many people.

If the name is a range identifier as opposed to the main brand, and it is not attempting to pass itself off as another brand, then trademark registration is either not worth defending or too generic. So Kogan is releasing the Elite range and Panasonic also has an Elite range. Nobody is going to think they come from the same company.

My preference  is brands, ranges and models be uniquely named as it makes searching for them so much easier.

When the Team IS the Brand

New York Red Bulls Logo

Red Bull bought the (USA) Major League Soccer‘s New York MetroStars and renamed them New York Red Bulls. Steve Rubel at Micro Persuasion calls the renaming risky in When the Team is the Brand.

I think it’s a gutsy move from a company revolutionizing the beverage business. Red Bull didn’t get where they are now by being timid. Let’s review the risks.

The team could lose… regularly. New Yorkers hate losers. The brand becomes associated with a pack of losers. But this is a World Cup year, soccer’s profile is huge. The Red Bulls could finish with the wooden spoon and the market impact would still be positive. Soccer is the most played team sport in America due to the number of kids playing it. The move shows long term commitment to the sport in one of the biggest media markets in the world. FIFA wants to grow the code’s popularity in the States and is going to spend money there.

The players could get involved in scandal. This isn’t the NBA, NRL or any of the European or South American leagues. The MLS is still not the big show in US sports. As such the stars are not treated as gods with the egos and behaviour to go with it. No individual players will consitently risk their future careers in Europe behaving like prima donnas on the road. Owning the team actually reduces the risk associated of individual player endorsements.

Pre- and post-season camps and road trips are a risk, especially with the sexual assault scandals rocking professional sports on all continents. Team owners in every sport are addressing these risks, team-wide scandals are not good for anybody’s business or career.

By owning the team rather than sponsoring it, Red Bull can’t use morals clauses to weasel out of sponsorship deals. No doubt all the players have morals clauses to limit the team risk. So if the deal goes bad Red Bull has to step in an fix it. The up side is the deal is all up side for Red Bull: they get a sporting brand to go with their existing extreme games sponsorships. As they build the brand they build their equity value for about the cost of a sponsorship deal.

There is the possibility that soccer in the States will remain a marginal sport. So the risk is MLS fails financially as a league. I don’t think Red Bull or FIFA are expecting it to knock the NBA, NFL or MLB of their pedestals anytime soon. It is a niche play to capitalise on the penetration of the sport. Plus as a European company, Austrian Red Bull would love to see soccer conquer the US market. Just like they imagine the day when they are the world’s #1 non-alcoholic beverage.

Great business.

Update I also forgot to mention the subliminal association of “New York Red Bulls” with “Chicago Bulls” who play in red and are one of the most recognised NBA franchises outside North America. English Premier League also has the Red Devils (a.k.a Manchester United) now owned by an American. Branding buzz all round.

Rebranding Mandrake Linux

I’m not sure which is company is dumber, Mandrive Linux or King Features Syndicate. From wikipedia’s Mandrake Linux entry:

In February 2004 MandrakeSoft lost a court case against Hearst Corporation, owners of King Features Syndicate. Hearst contends that MandrakeSoft is infringing upon King Features’ trademarked character Mandrake the Magician. The word Mandrake is not unique to the King Features character, and MandrakeSoft is appealing the decision. As a precaution, MandrakeSoft has renamed its products by removing the space between the brand name and the product name and changing the first letter of the product name to lower case, thus creating one word. Starting from version 10.0, Mandrake Linux became known as Mandrakelinux, and its logo changed accordingly. Similarly, MandrakeMove became Mandrakemove.

King Features upsets thousands of smart geeks by this. But what is their downside? Nothing. Nobody will organise a boycott or campaign against them. And even if the smart geeks to get organised they don’t represent King Features Syndicate stakeholders. In what way could they influence those stakeholders to make KFS take notice?

MandrakeSoft were dumb for getting to release 10.0 or so without securing their intellectual property. The cost of defending the action in financial and management resources is inexcusable.

I haven’t read the court decision, but it also amazes me that King Features can lock up the word Mandrake (which is a plant) in areas beyond their trademark class. Of course they may have trademark protection in the software class.

The point is now moot as

in April 2005 Mandrakesoft annouced that after the corporate merger of Mandrakesoft and Conectiva, and the legal dispute with Hearst Corporation, the new company name would be Mandriva, and that Mandriva Linux would be the new name covering products.

Chalk one up for the deep pockets of an old media company.

Pamela Anderson blog

Pamela Anderson has a blog. You may need to join friendster.com to read it.

It’s an interesting case study. It appears that she is actually authoring the entries – although I’d guess a PA is actually transcribing her posts, it makes more sense in time management terms.

Friendstar benefits from having a high profile celebrity using part of their service. Pamela benefits by promoting her new show and maintaining her public profile using a cool “new” technology. The show “Stacked” on Fox (US) benefits from the promotion.

File this under a good idea for promotions and marketing.