"My" Windows XP?

by Cem Basman

Venture capitalist and blogger Guy Kawasaki on the art of branding:

7. Strive for humanness. Great brands achieve a high level of humaness. They speak to you as an individual, not as part of a market. It's “my iPod.” “My Macintosh.” “My Harley Davidson.” “My bottle of Coke.” By contrast, you'd never think, “My Windows XP,” or “My Microsoft Office,” so I wouldn't label Microsoft as a great brand although, obviously, it is a great financial success. Ideally, you'd achieve both.

Never thought about it that way. Good point.


I once read a quote from a Harley Davidson manager (unconfirmed though but that doesn't matter here), saying that if you have customers who tatoo your brand name all over their bodies then you don't really need to worry about customer loyalty programs... Sounds very convincing :-).

Ragnar Schierholz, 2006-01-23

However, I use "their" (Microsoft) Products to deal with "My Documents", "My Music", "My Pictures", on "My Computer". In German ("Eigene Dateien") it's even worse...

Nico Kaiser, 2006-01-23

@Nico: Don't worry. In Vista the "My" will be gone. It will be just "Music" "Pictures".... because you should't own any digital assets
>:) stw

Stephan H. Wissel, 2006-01-23

Huh? Isn't that a typical "problem" of software? Would you ever say "My Photoshop", "My iTunes" or "My Notes"? On the other hand, wouldn't you say "My XBox"?

Moritz Petersen, 2006-01-23

Gotcha! A Guy with a Vista tattoo [wmv Video 3:46]. I think he is the only dork in the web ... ;)

Cem Basman, 2006-01-23

I guess Moritz is right, even though I heard more than once too often: "My internet isn't working."

Dominik Schwind, 2006-01-23

That's kind of a silly argument. Apple users don't say "My OS X". If Microsoft made computers, and called them "Winboxes" or something, People would certainly say "My Winbox". Come to think of it, isn't Guy really talking about Genericized Trademarks, which, while seemingly good at first, can spell disaster?

On the other hand, the Opposite Test is a great tool when you have to argue against overzealous marketers in your company.

"OK, so if that's what we make, then who's filling the niche for a slow, buggy, user-hostile, unscalable version?"

Jeff Chausse, 2006-01-23

Well, it is all correct as it isn't your or my Windows XP; it's Microsoft's Window XP, and after paying your money you only have limited right to use it.

It's like a book from the library or a DVD you rent. You won't call that my book or my DVD.

Sander Jonkers, 2006-01-23

Guy is a good entertainer and up to every rhetoric trick. After following this discussion here, I believe now Guy is confusing us a bit with his theory #7 of branding:


If it is a personal and individual object, device or gadget you say "my" like "my Harley", "my iPod", etc. Same with productivity tools with like "my PC", "my Mac". But also with personal productivity software tools as "my Outlook", "my Basecamp", "my delicious", "my files", "my folders", "my pictures", "my documents"... "my" or not has nothing to do with branding or its perceiving. Just, is it individual enough to be distinguishable from others of the same kind?

In this sense operating systems are only means to an end. They are obviously not perceived as an individual productivity tool. Therefore probably people doesn't say "my Windows", "my OS X". They are too generic.


Comparing the 100 Best Global Brands shows us that Microsoft has second highest brand equity in the world - after Coca Cola. IBM ist #3, Intel #5, Hewlett-Packard #13, Cisco #17, and so on, and "my Mac" is #41. So which brand is weak, Guy?

Your avid reader
Cem ;)

Cem Basman, 2006-01-23

I heard an interesting BBC World radio report on brands a couple of months ago, A guy from a well known agency said, that MS has a problem, because "nobody loves Microsoft". People would "respect MS" but they would never have a cult following like other brands. If I recall correctly, this guy went on saying, that in the longrun, this could be a trouble for MS, as they would always have to fight for market share.

Moritz Schroeder, 2006-01-23

Moritz, I agree, on that MS lacks a cult factor. So does IBM too. Just to vary a saying of a late german president: "I don't love Microsoft, I love my wife". ... ;)

Cem Basman, 2006-01-23

@Moritz - but do you 'love' SuSE/Gentoo/Ubuntu/Caldera/Debian/whatever, or do you see them as tools to do a job?

Also, surely cult=minority interest; something that enables a bunch of people to come together and see themselves as a special group - perhaps a misunderstood and abused group!

If Microsoft's operating system runs 92% of all desktop systems on earth (or whatever the figure is these days) it can never become a cult no matter how cuddly and personal it tries to be.

Nick Daisley, 2006-01-23


> Therefore probably people doesn't say "my Windows"

That's not entirely true. You wouldn't believe how many times a day I hear people say "My Windows keeps crashing ..." And right they are. Because it's their Windows that's crashing, not my OS X ;)

Now, jokes and puns aside, it's just normal that people use the word "my" even with software once they become either personally envolved or if they want to stress that something is happening with the machine/application/operating systen *they* work with, without wanting to make a general assumption about every other machine/application/operating system.

So in essence I'd say that what you said about personal gadgets and productivity software can be expanded to include the OS itself, too. Because often in a users perception it's not Outlook or Photoshop or whatever other application that crashed. To them it is Windows.

Stefan Rubner, 2006-01-23

@Stephan: Apple uses DRM. Music purchased from the iTunes store isn't really "my" music either.

Bob Congdon, 2006-01-23

@Moritz: Google search results:
"I Love Linux" = 80,100 hits
"I Love Apple" = 60,200 hits
"I Love Microsoft" = 24,600 hits
"I Love IBM" = 727 hits

I guess nobody loves IBM. ;-)

Bob Congdon, 2006-01-23

Bob, that's why the folder on a Macs hard drive is called "iTunes Music" - just so you don't forget who the real owner is ;)

Stefan Rubner, 2006-01-23

"I Love Google" = 147,000 hits


Enrico Lippmann, 2006-01-23

It's late ....

"I love Martin" = 14.500 hits (I shouldn't tell my wife ...)
"I love Volker" = 24 hits (hey Volkers out there - you can do better!)

last but not least ...

"I love vowe" = 1 hit (and not from Ute!!!)

Martin Sander, 2006-01-23

My Wife and I decided to buy a new and bigger car for us and Our Children. It was My Money which bought the car. The other day she told me about taking a new friend for a drive in it and she constantly referred to it as My Car in the conversation. Hmmm. Property is theft. :o)

Bruce Langner, 2006-01-24

2.130.000 für "I love Lucy". Record?

Cem Basman, 2006-01-24

Even if the use of possessive pronouns isn't the ultimate litmus test for a person's loyalty to a brand, and by extension the humanness of that brand, I still agree with Guy when he says that humanness is an important part of branding. The key is that "They speak to you as an individual, not as part of a market."

Put it this way. There are certain brands that I want to people to identify with me. These brands speak to me as an individual, and perhaps more importantly, they speak about me as an individual.

Certain brands make a statement to others (accurately or not) about who you are. That is humanness.

Andy Reimer, 2006-01-24

I'm am typing this on MY Powerbook. Woe to those who don't recognize this, as I'll kick their ass.

Jon Johnston, 2006-01-25

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