Branding for Builders by fmr Netflix VP of Product

It is so important to build an identity of yours in life. Likewise, if you are planning on a big venture or a business model, it is extremely important to build an identity that sells. It is essentially called a Brand. In this lecture, Gibson Biddle walks us through the evolution of big brands like Apple and Netflix, and gives some important tips to unlocking big brand success.

Meet Gibson Biddle

gibson biddles

In 2005, Gibson Biddle joined Netflix as VP of Product. In 2010, he became Chief Product Officer of Chegg, a textbook rental company that went public in 2014. Today, he’s an adviser for multiple consumer tech companies and teaches entrepreneurship at Stanford.

Gibson is an extraordinary speaker, writer, and teacher. He is a product leader, who today hosts various workshops on product strategy, leadership and culture.

Branding for Product People

Why Care About Brand?

As a product leader, your job is to:

  1. Delight customers
  2. Work on Margin-enhancing ways to do that
  3. Bring to the table hard-to-copy processes and products

Hard-to-Copy: Brand 

For example, Netflix as a company has its deep-rooted branch which its customers inherently trust. Building a similar brand on that scale is difficult, making Netflix’s brand hard-to-copy. It also has some features which make its efforts difficult to replicate.

  1. The economy of scale is extremely high
  2. Network effects—it is built to readily connect to any device in the world.
  3. Unique technology

You might also be interested in: How to Get a Product Management Job at Netflix

Why Care About Marketing?

A question that comes to many Product Managers is if I am in technology and development, why do I have to focus on marketing?”

It is always essential to understand the user base before moving into development. Because a product fails miserably if it’s built and deployed in the wrong market area.

While interviewing PMs, these are the areas most focused on:

  1. Technical –  Work effectively with engineers.
  2. Management – Light process to deliver results
  3. Creative – Generates ideas that matter
  4. Business – Deliver shareholder value
  5. Marketing – Package & position ideas
  6. Design – Work well with design; value simplicity
  7. Consumer science – Insight via equal survey, data and A/B tests.

Notice that marketing is just as valued as everything else. It’s a key skill that Product Managers shouldn’t deprive themselves of.

Branding for Builders

What’s Brand?

There are many quotes from all sorts of sources about what Brand really means.

“Don’t worry about a brand, just build a great product”

Anonymous

“The most powerful brands are built from the heart. Their foundations are stronger because they are built with the strength of human spirit.”

Howard Starbucks
time apple GIF brand

“Brand is the unique story that consumers recall when they think of you.”

Laura Busche

But Gibson has a different take, one which is particularly useful for Product Managers to keep in mind.

“A brand is the story that builds a trusted relationship between customer & product.”

Gibson Biddle

Two brand models: Positioning vs Pyramid

1. Positioning Model

What is it?

The Positioning Model is highly descriptive –  everyone should understand the product as it is explained to them. The aim of the model is to express how the product aims to improve customers’ quality of life.

For example if you were to apply this model to a person, you would think of how people would describe them at a party.

Positioning graphic

2. Pyramid Model

Branding: Pyramid Positioning Model graphic

The Pyramid Model highlights the needs of a product, with its features and attributes (what you’ll have to build) forming the base.

The Power of a Brand

Brands are about how you want to be perceived

Some of the qualities/features that lead to a brand are:

  1. You engage in revolutionary innovation and the brand is a reflection of how you see yourself.
  2. Defining the brand provides the product team with tools needed to create a consistent experience as the company grows.
  3. Together, brand and product can delight customers in hard-to-copy, margin enhancing ways. 

How Netflix Built a Brand

Some of reasons why Netflix grew from a small idea into such a mega-brand are:

  1. Ongoing innovation
  2. Consumer science (focus groups + A/B tests)
  3. Customer obsession
  4. Increasing value

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