It’s been apparent for some time now, that brands are becoming direct competitors with media companies. Brands are bypassing the media altogether by creating content which they distribute directly to their customers. A recent example is Nestea’s upcoming foray into webisodes. Now, however, we see media companies getting set to turn the tables.
On Junta42, Joe Pulizzi discusses a recent talk given by a Guardian executive in which he says that the company believes “the key to their growth is in creating new, unique and valuable products and services by leveraging the Guardian brand.” It seems the Guardian has been working with over 850 companies to develop products and applications based on its brand. The Guardian isn’t necessarily funding these efforts, but is lending its name. As further evidence of the product trend, one of the commenters to the post notes that the Wall Street Journal sells wine “hand-selected by their wine columnists,” but true to the notion that business models cycle, another commenter notes that the Sunday Times in the UK has been doing this sort of thing for 35 years.
Hearst made headlines a few months ago when it announced that it would be selling an e-reader that would compete with Amazon’s Kindle and similar devices from Sony. This is a bit different, however, since Hearst is launching this reader in an effort to preserve a legacy business model, not create a new one.
TechCrunch is also moving into the world of products with its CrunchPad which it plans to launch later this year. The CrunchPad, a touch screen tablet for Web surfing, is not meant to preserve a business model, however, but is a brand extension. One could argue that TechCrunch doesn’t have a whole lot of expertise in hardware development, but from a consumer perspective it just may work. It’s also meant to fill a consumer need, not a media company need which the e-readers seem to be doing.
As the media company scramble for revenue continues, we’ll see more and more products being developed both as brand extensions and as new brands. Tired of being everyone’s punching bag, the smart companies will want to throw a few punches of their own.