I read an interesting article about Yahoo! last week on BrandWeek that asked various business experts to weigh in on whether or not new leadership is the band-aid needed to bring the company back to its former position of strength. The responses were all fairly similar and match my own feelings about how to fix Yahoo! The consensus seems to be that Yahoo! lacks focus.
Focused brands are powerful brands. They own a word or phrase in consumers’ minds and deliver on consumer expectations for the brand promise with every brand interaction.
The question these days for Yahoo! is — what does the Yahoo! brand promise? The answer is unclear. Is Yahoo! a search company or a media company? Is it a news organization or an editorial organization? Consumers aren’t certain, and that leads to confusion. When consumers are confused by a brand, they turn away from it in search of a brand that meets their expectations for it again and again.
So what can Yahoo! do to save itself? There is far too much value in the Yahoo! name to let it go, and one can only point the finger at ineffective leadership insofar as that leadership doesn’t demand focus. Yahoo! still attracts eyeballs and it still attracts advertisers, but the muddled brand is at a crossroads. It’s time for Yahoo! to pick a path and get going.
I wrote a book about the value of the Playboy brand, and the Yahoo! story isn’t too dissimilar from the Playboy story in that it’s a brand that lost focus. I don’t discredit Yahoo! from moving away from search into new directions, but the brand lost itself along the way just as Playboy did. That’s a common problem for publicly-held companies whose stockholders demand double-digit growth year over year. Only time will tell if the appropriate changes can be made to re-focus both brands on promises that not only allow the brands to survive but thrive over the coming years.
What do you think? Can Yahoo! be fixed? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.
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