Corporate Eye

Keeping Yahoo! Brand Value Alive

yahoo_logoI 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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Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for Entrepreneur.com and Forbes.com, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as MSNBC.com, BusinessWeek.com, TodayShow.com, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.
 
Comments

Hello, Im doing a master in Communication Strategies in Spain and our final project is about Yahoo! I wonder if you can help us a little with this.

I read your post and its very interesting the way you explain how yahoo’s brand is having a big problem.

At this point we are making the brand positioning, the segmentation and branding investigation and we’ll like to know your opinion on these aspects.

Thanks a lot.
Daniel

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