ObamaCare Website Roll-out Broke the Seven Laws of High Tech Branding
“… it’s all about the brand.”
AUSTIN, Texas. October 25, 2013 — According to a report released by the Global Language Monitor, there are seven laws of high technology branding that organizations violate at great risk to their brand equity, their product, their reputation — and their future or even survival. Now, even its staunchest defenders admit that the ObamaCare Website Roll-out was a flawed, less than stellar effort, communicating incompetence, or worse. However, from a marketing perspective, the firestorm over the ObamaCare Website Roll-out was a direct result of the Administration’s violation of the Seven Laws of High Technology Branding.
The Seven Laws of High Tech Branding are key to ultimate success or failure because these rules are not arbitrary whims, folklore, or random suggestions, but rather the experience of hundreds or even thousands of high technology companies, most of which you have never heard of, or remember only, as fleeting brands that dazzled, shooting across the firmament, only to be consumed by their own incandescence, rapidly fading into oblivion (e,g. Univac, Sperry, Burroughs, Commodore, Wang, Prime, Data General, and the like).
We often write of the importance of brands and brand equity and their importance to contemporary society in these pages. Indeed, we live in a world where the value of our choices, options, and opportunities are constantly being weighed against one another. This constant, continuing and continual evaluation is the basis of what we call ‘brand equity’. We define ‘brand equity’ as the value that is placed on any branded-entity as compared to all the others. Branded entities can be any person, place, idea or thing.
In the world of High Technology, where ObamaCare now, perhaps unfairly, finds itself, it’s all about the brand.
Actually, in the home, in the schools, on the ball fields (and battlefields), in houses of worship, on Main Street and Wall Street its all about the brand — from the clothes we wear, to the schools we attend, to the cars we drive, to places where we live. One more thing about the American sense of value (which the rest of the world does consider exceptional or at least rather odd), is the notion of ‘puffery’. Puffery is the concept that when speaking of branded entities, exaggeration is not only ‘reasonable’ but expected. Even more so, the practice of puffery is protected by law.
Steve Jobs, Ronald Reagan, and Barack Obama Version 1.o (anytime before his first inauguration) were masters of puffery. To Jobs his Apple products were ‘outrageously or insanely great’, to Reagan America was Augustine’s ‘City on the Hill’ and his adversaries inhabited the ‘Evil Empire,’ while Obama V. 1.0’s vision was that of a transparent, ‘Yes, we can!,’ consensus-building world.
One of our marketing rules is to ‘start from reality and go from there’. This means there must be some substance to the claims subsequent to exaggeration. The audience understands the ‘marketing concept of zero’. ‘No mess’ does not mean the complete absence of messiness. ‘In no time’ does not mean completion in the absence of time. But your product better exceed all reasonable expectations in terms of quickness and cleanliness. Providing anything less to an already skeptical, hype-resistant world can prove disastrous.
Needless to say, the firestorm over the ObamaCare Website Roll-out was a direct result of the Obama Administration’s violation of the principles that can be summed up as the Seven Laws of High Tech Branding.
The Seven Laws of High Technology Branding
Specifically a successful high technology launch must:
1. Under promise and over deliver. Even better, over promise and over deliver. (See Puffery, above.)
2. Come in under budget and ahead of schedule and NEVER cite a $400 million budget as inadequate; this reeks of incompetence.
3. Don’t let them see you sweat. It’s high technology after all, the 21st century’s version of magic. Sweating in most uncool. Grace under pressure is the longed-for hallmark.
4. This is the era of ‘The Cloud’ and ‘Big Data’. Utilize the Cloud to achieve simplicity over complexity; Incorporate Big Data into solutions in an ‘elegant’ manner. Eliminate any discussion of millions of lines of code. Thousands of children have mastered object-oriented programming in their basements.
5. Think of the Roll-out in terms of crisis communication. It’s a war. It’s a battle between us and them (or the forces of evil). For more information, see Steven Paul Jobs, Ronald Wilson Reagan, or Barack Obama V. 1,0.
6. Your enemy is not just your competitor, but also those unseen, your predecessors, an unbelieving world — and, always, a hostile press. With this in mind, no pointing fingers or crying in public.
7. Take no prisoners. If you encounter difficulties heads must roll (and roll immediately). Any appearance of weakness must be immediately excoriated and excised. (Please take note and apologies offered, K-Sib.)
And remember, it’s all about expectations and the brand, a brand that can take years to build — and only weeks to inflict great harm, or even destroyed, more often than not, irreparably so.