Mary Jo Foley on the "Live" brand being the new ".NET"

Why is it so obvious to anyone outside of Microsoft that our branding strategy needs help?

Comments (6)

  1. Kevin Daly says:

    There is actually a fairly consistent pattern to this (so it’s not just run of the mill cluelessness): with ActiveEverything, Everything.NET, and now Everything Live we’ve seen witnessed in each case an outbreak of taxonomical incontinence. Brand names are defined in ways that only make sense to a native speaker of hype, and these definitions then become the basis for categorising unrelated entities together. The problem I think boils down to the fact that a set of marketing buzzwords used to explain the brand name is confused with something that actually has meaning…and unfortunately to the outside world no such meaning is apparent, and consequently the branding is nonsensical and confusing.

    There is of course a possibly related branding disease at Microsoft: the obsession with creating pompous and boring product names to appeal to the much-worshipped "Enterprise" crowd, lately involving that old favourite from the years of IBM dominance, the Three-Letter Acronym. Whence WPF, WCF, and EID (you want designers to get excited about a product called Expression Interactive Designer…What *are* you thinking?). I’m just waiting for the Windows Timewasting Foundation.

  2. I think maybe MSFT has too many MBAs and JDs.

  3. Good points, the only other factor that isn’t being represented in this discussion is executive mandate.  A lot of these decisions get "forced down" if you will.  The funny thing is that we build a lot of brand equity in codenames, like Indigo and Avalon only to replace them with the descriptive names (WPF and WCF).

    We ran into the same issue with LINQ on the C# team.  For example, you may have noticed in the latest Channel9 Anders video ( that he mentions he’s working on something called "Project Clarity" that he describes as the project now known as LINQ. Clarity was the original code name (until a couple of weeks before PDC) and we wanted to use publicly at PDC for LINQ until a top-level mandate came down to say we needed to change this. This actually involved dev work to change it to LINQ. This involved updating all the docs and namespaces to remove any Clarity references. I think Clarity would’ve been a great code name especially given the "fog" surrounding Object querying and ORM and DClarity and XClarity sound pretty good as domain variations. In the end though, LINQ is a really solid choice, in particular if (I hope) the code name doesn’t need to change in the future the way Indigo and Avalon had to "disappear" which meant losing all of their brand value. I don’t know where the "use descriptive names" mandate came down, but it’s certainly "in effect" for most things. I am however, happy that "Vista" got a catchier name then "Windows 200X Personal Edition".

  4. Jeff Parker says:

    Well yeah I think marketing is way off especially with the live thing. First off, is it live, as in live tv, as in this is happening right now, as in Live at the apollo. Or is it live, as in this is how we should live, or how and you live without this.

    One of the biggest blunders I think is some of this new marketing phrase that just are confusing but don’t worry MIcrosoft isn’t the only ones that seem to be having marketing brainfarts. Another example was all those commercial coming something you can not do with out mLife. Durring that entire add campain constantly talking about how we need mLife, and how mLife would help us. The whole time I basically learned to tune anything mLife out, since they never told us what it was until it was released, I just normally assumed it was some new type of life insurance. Ends up is was short for Mobile Life I think it was for something for cell phones, or mobile commincations but by the time it finally got announce what mLife was I think the damage was done everyone thought it was some form of insurance and instantly tuned it out.

  5. Boss says:

    The first year or so that we were pushing .NET ( the runtime ) we had to have a least 3 slides in every presentation explaining that Microsoft Marketing had gone Rabid and needed shooting, we even had a Microsoft evangelist come to see our local group and get confused.

    I am not looking forward to this happening again.


  6. SoonerDave says:

    The "Live" moniker is nothing more than a term that allows people to put some sort of marketing glue on a disjoint set of products to convey the illusion that they are all part of a grand, master, carefully and thoughtfully interwoven enterprise architecture.

    No one believes that.

    And remember, too, that the moniker of today is what MS often *runs* from tomorrow. Look at how the phrase ".NET" has been summarily dropped from Visual Studio and its subordinate products. Its Visual Basic 2005, Visual Studio 2005, etc., not Visual Studio .NET.

    Part of me thinks half of Microsoft is wanting to get away from web applications as a panacea, while the other half wants to reinvent them as a way to recapture the magic of the ol Win32 API….remember what they say about a house divided…