Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The Power of Divergence

Everyone's talking about convergence. The iPhone. Set top boxes that are also computers. Bundled phone/internet/TV services. Great to talk about. Exciting to hear about how simple our lives are going to be once it's done. We've been yammering about this stuff for a decade, and it's limping along.

But there's a book I read a while back that made realize how all those efforts are swimming upstream against the natural order of things.

You've probably guessed the name from the picture. If you're in marketing and haven't read this book, buy it today. Using a Darwinian point of view, Al & Laura Ries make a great case for the power of divergence, and how great brands are created out of divergence.

Think about any category: phones (home phone service, business phone service, cell phone service, VOIP phone service), cars (cars, SUVs, luxury SUVs, crossover vehicles), coffee (homemade, decaf, freeze dried, drive through, gourmet), etc. etc... All these products started simply and then continued to diverge. And each divergence was a branding opportunity (AT&T, Cable & Wireless, Verizon, Vonage)... Your industry will diverge next. Who will capitalize on it, and why don't brand extensions work?

Buy it. Read it. I suspect if you apply it at the right moment, it can make you a lot of money, and save you from incredibly costly mistakes...