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Like or loathe? What makes a technical brand unpopular

September 19, 2013

People in technical job roles are a discerning bunch. I’ve always worked in a commercial/ marketing role but alongside technical teams. They often develop attachments (or strong aversions) to the tech brands they are involved with.

Whether it’s tablets, smart phones or the software they use in their job, I think they’re less likely to tolerate poor products than their non-technical colleagues. They expect technology to be bug free, user friendly and made by a company/brand that they can get on board with.

So, technical companies need to bear this in mind when planning a marketing strategy. They’re selling to a smart, savvy group who are happy to go and find things out for themselves and don’t like to feel they’re being ‘sold to’.  Companies such as VMware know this and have put a lot of effort into more subtle forms of marketing such as community. Good content marketing is vital and can be more successful than an ‘aggressive’ sales push.

So what have some technical brands done to find themselves on the list of unpopular brands? 

1. Monopoly
Microsoft was probably the original ‘hated’ tech company. This ubiquitous brand who owned the software languages, the operating system, the universal Office products, the browser etc. were seen to abuse their power.  Many objected to them bundling their browsers in with the Microsoft packages and consciously chose other browsers such as Firefox.

Microsoft themselves even seem conscious of their profile and rarely put the ‘Microsoft’ name in front of highly thought of Xbox. When you bring home your brand new Xbox you will have to look hard to find the Microsoft logo on the box.

2. Privacy
Many companies have lost their goodwill by failing to stick to a fair privacy policy.  The technical community places a lot of emphasis on this and on fair play in general. Google and Facebook have both faced a lot of criticism for this.  Microsoft recently did a U-turn on the ‘always listening’ policy for its new Xbox One after a backlash as users feared for their privacy.       

3. Taxation policy
Google and Amazon’s creative tax policy in the UK has earned them many enemies. In Google’s case they are used by the vast majority of SMEs in the UK for Pay per Click and yet the treasury sees very little of it.  Amazon is a well-liked brand and does what it does very well but its attitude to paying UK tax has caused some to boycott them.           

4. Aggressive sales drives
When I asked the technical team at Extravision (a mix of software developers and HTML designers) what brands they dislike; Linkedin was mentioned. The number of emails they send makes them unpopular.  I personally quite like the Linkedin emails but the tech guys find them overbearing and intrusive. Apple annoyed people recently with their ‘buy your Mother an iPad for Mother’s day’ email campaign. The Apple brand has fierce loyalty from some of its users but suggesting that we spend £399 for a Mother’s day present didn’t go down well.  Their marketing department ignored the backlash and repeated it again on Father’s day. 
‘Techies’ identify with companies that are doing something positive. Linux made a great move with this in the late 90s by being open source and brands like Kickstarter are getting it right. Perhaps even the old enemy Microsoft can be forgiven now that they have used their huge profits have helped the world’s most needy via Bill and Melinda Gates’ charity foundation.

Posted by Jenni Malley
General, Technology

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