First Impressions are Everything...

Imagine you were dating someone and you walked into his or her apartment for the first time and there was underwear lying around, cat hair, cans, newspapers, books, food, and random papers all over the place.
  • Does your perception change of this person? 
  • Would you see yourself with this person long term, or would it be a short relationship? 
  • Would you continue to tell stories about this person and the condition of their apartment for some time to come?  
Your personal brand is something you carry with you everywhere you go.  How you dress, who you hang out with, how you treat people, how organized you are, how well groomed you are, etc.  Your personal brand is not about wealth or status, it's just about you and the impression you leave behind.

Now as a company your brand is more than just the logo you place on your product.  Your brand, if done right, is the soul of your company, it's the core of your culture, it's the thing your family thinks about when you tell them where you work.  It's the emotions created when people walk into your store or visit your website.

Your brand is at the center of everything you do -- and therefore if you truly care about it, you should manage every detail with precision and thought.

In 2006 I was visually and vocally frustrated with the HP website.  We were in the middle of integrating our products onto the site, and it was just a super difficult process.  We were generally shocked at the number of skues and text on the site - it was super confusing.  

Well today I asked my wife to buy a couple of displays from HP's website.  She came back about 30 minutes later and said "Shopping on HP's website is like going to a garage sale.  Disorganized and messy...  its like an episode of Hoarders."  

Ouch!  It's been six years and it feels like nothing has changed. I hope they people at HP who read this can turn this type of reaction into some constructive insights.  Here are a few for you;

What is EPEAT?

  • Focus your skues on what real people want. You don't need 5000 skues.
  • Lose the randomness, for example, what is EPEAT?  
  • What is COOLSENSE and who cares?
  • I notice there are products repeating all over the place.
  • When you dive into a product there are like 30 pages of accessories that I don't want, would be cool if you shortened that to a focus list of great accessories that add value to your brand.
  • Your photography should be consistent, beautiful, and thoughtful.  
  • Product names mixed with categories is confusing. 
  • The model numbers are... wow..  I don't have the words.
Granted, HP is not the only one with this problem, there are many companies who don't put enough focus (*or the right focus) on their web presence and/or product presentation.  Can you think of other similar online buying experiences?

Companies like Amazon, Apple, and Dell have done a good job of simplying their online buying experience and it likely reflects in their online sales.  I would really like to see more PC companies follow the leads of the best in the business - there's nothing wrong with learning from the best.

I still have faith HP will come back and be great again. I'm almost positive Meg Whitman has visted the website, and she's probably as frustrated as my wife is.

The Future Looks Good...

With Windows 8 around the corner there is a glimmer of hope to those of you who want more than what an iPad can offer.  The Samsung Series 7 with Windows 8 demonstrates that it is possible, and new hardware is going to really help raise the stakes. 

I firmly believe we need more than just a great combination of software and hardware to win the hearts and minds of consumers everywhere.  We need companies to find their soul, re-ignite their culture, and manage their brand with real care and attention. We need more founders and people who genuinly care about the place they work to drive this thinking throughout their organization, even if it means losing popularity contests.