January 29, 2006

So you want to take on the incumbent

by skrenta at 12:56 PM

Yahoo in 1998 had 100's of features, but the best way to take it on turns out to have been to focus on a single feature. Not put up a portal with email, photos, news, chat, but just to focus on one great product -- search result quality. In fact Larry and Sergey said that the time that they didn't want to build Yahoo, it was too cluttered. Doing just one thing was the best way to build a new Yahoo competitor, not duplicating them feature for feature. Others tried to duplicate Yahoo piece by piece and got nowhere.

Collections of random features rarely achieve takeoff.

Once you get big, of course, you lose focus and brand extend until you've obliterated the meaning of your original branding, but your distribution is so big that it doesn't matter anymore (except maybe in the long term?)

Or is my Al Ries view of branding out of date? I was happy to see Yahoo keep Flickr as a separate brand, instead of erasing it by calling it Yahoo Photo Sharing or something. eGroups was a stronger name than Yahoo Groups, IMO. I can't remember the new name for Overture, Yahoo something Services I think. Maybe I'll have new opinions on this after working through Kellogg on Branding, which just arrived. It was highly recommended by the Economist a few issues ago. We'll see..