Know what you are about – brand lessons from Polaroid

Polaroid_logo_Polaroid – the ‘instant picture’ company, had an amazing USP. They had a patented process that guaranteed them a unique place in the photographic market place. Polaroid Land cameras (named after the inventor and founder, Edwin Land) were the embodiment of an iconic brand from the 1950’s through to 2004.

The unstoppable march of digital photography has proved catastrophic for many of the trusted names brands previously dominant in the sector. Camera brands such as Canon and Nikon easily made the transition. Others, especially those who saw their future in terms of traditional film, such as Kodak, had potentially much more serious problems.

The core differentiator that Polaroid enjoyed was the ‘instant’ picture – digital imagery swept that away at a stroke. However, the Polaroid brand is strong, with a unique legacy and a strong attachment to generations of happy snappers and professionals. There seems to have been a realization that the brand was a much more important asset than a now obsolescent technology. The brand moved ahead.

Polaroid loomed large on my horizon once more when I was reviewing a range of new sports, digital, video cameras under the eponymous brand. It gave me cause to reflect that where Kodak had floundered, Polaroid gained a new lease of life. Kodak seems to have mistakenly thought it was in the film business – where in fact, the brand was all about imagery through whatever means. Polaroid stopped thinking of themselves as an ‘instant image’ brand and developed as a wider imaging brand. All the currency of their legacy continued to support a new offering.

As all photographers know the difference between doing something good and something great, may simply mean changing your viewpoint slightly.


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