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HUBRIS: destroyer of brands….

Though, at the time it hardly seems possible, all great brands come to an end and the consumer moves on; leaving the landscape strewn with the vast and trunkless legs of once-powerful companies....

...where they lie forgotten, except by us marketing lags, who use their fate as a cautionary tale against of the dangers of hubris.

Who remembers Reebok when they outsold an upstart brand from Oregon? Or Sega when they dominated gaming? I once had a Myspace page and I miss those trips to Helsinki to see the nice people at Nokia. Even… ahem… the mighty Microsoft once sneered like Ozymandias at those quirky folks from Apple.

Here’s how ex Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer answered a question about the iPhone in 2008.

Q: "People get passionate when Apple comes out with something new — the iPhone; the iPod. Is that something that you’d want them to feel about Microsoft?"

BALLMER: "Would I trade 96% of the market for 4% of the market? (Laughter.) I want to have products that appeal to everybody.Now we’ll get a chance to go through this again in phones and music players. There’s no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance.... But it’s not like we’re at the end of the line of innovation that’s going to come in the way people listen to music, watch videos, etc. I’ll bet our ads will be less edgy. But my 85-year-old uncle probably will never own an iPod, and I hope we’ll get him to own a Zune."

In my time I've worked on projects for all of them (including the Zune!) and, at the time, you’d have thought their empires would last a thousand years. Except that they never do.

Percy Shelley's "Ozymandias" I met a traveller from an antique land Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone Stand in the desert... near them, on the sand, Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown, And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command, Tell that its sculptor well those passions read Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things, The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed: And on the pedestal these words appear: 'My name is Ozymandias, king of kings: Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!' Nothing beside remains. Round the decay Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare The lone and level sands stretch far away.

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