Posted on | November 12, 2006 | No Comments
Principal, Ecra Creative Group
Our collective love affair with the nerd might be waning.
With our relentless integration of technology into our lives, the nerd was the knight in shining armor who liberated us from complexity and made our computers work for us.
But advanced technology is no longer the private estate of the computer desk. Technology has invaded entertainment. And technology is taking over.
Only a few short years ago, the Geek Squad (not so long ago integrated into the Best Buy family) redefined the computer service and repair market. Specifically, it created a brand presence for a disjointed market of one-off computer repair shops and independent contractors.
At the time Geek Squad got its start, there was scarcely a mention of home technology that did not involve the computer. Audio systems could get complex, but they largely were a matter of proper wiring. How times have changed.
It is the success of its brand position as “premier computer support technicians” that has left the Geek Squad vulnerable.
In an absolutely critical move to stay in the race with its behemoth competitor, Circuit City launched its own technical service provider brand: firedog. It is a new world, and the firedog brand is ready for it.
To be sure, the new provider is copying many of the Geek Squad brand elements that worked so well. But instead of “nerdiness”, firedog is branding “cool”. Let’s take a look at just a few similarities in strategy, but contrasts in approach:
1. Geek Squad “agents” drive the nerd-chic black and white Volkswagen New Beetle. firedog hits the town in the ultra-slick hot green and black Scion xB. firedog’s transportation looks like something that just rolled off the floor at West Coast Custom.
2. Geek Squad brands cop colors: (mostly) black and white (with some orange). The combination is harsh and hot. firedog (oddly enough) brands lime green. The color is unexpected. Neutral, but cool, the juxtaposition generates excitement.
3. Where the Geek Squad brands problems, firedog brands opportunities. Geek Squad has done an excellent job co-opting “police language”. Technicians are agents. Offices are precincts. Geek Squad agents â€œrush to the rescueâ€ of your worst computer problems. Boil off the fluff, however, and what the Geek Squad really has branded is fear. The upstart firedog takes a different approach. They brand how cool it would be if you could play online computer games through your HD television and surround sound system. firedog is branding joy.
Beyond the outward tactical elements of the brand, though, firedog understands better the rapidly evolving nature of the home technology environment. It is not just about the PC anymore. With home theater equipment becoming as advanced as the Intel Core Doe machine under the desk (and inextricably linked to it), even the tech savvy among us need some help. firedog is there with a more resonant brand platform.
Those in the tech sphere have told us for years that the home entertainment and computing environments were approaching “convergence”. A day where your plasma television would be the visual interface for online PC gaming. A day where you would create a playlist for your dinner party on your iPod and play it through your networked stereo system. A day where your entertainment media are independent of the technology used to access them.
In developing the firedog brand, Circuit City understands this day is fast arriving. And they are well positioned to rub the Geek Squad’s nose in it.
This is one case where some of the best brand architects on the planet (the experts at Best Buy) have been upstaged.