This entry is not meant to question the way Microsoft is launching Bing, but rather just explore some possible obstacles they might face and different ways of approaching the overall opportunity from a hypothetical perspective.

Currently, Microsoft is rebranding their search engine with the following attributes:

· Easy to use/Simple

· Quickly provides actionable information

· New/Cool

These are some powerful brand attributes and have no doubt been vetted through exhaustive market research, but are any of these attributes natural fits for the Microsoft brand? Some people may even argue that Microsoft has some inherent brand attributes that run directly against the characteristics they’re trying to infuse into Bing (the popular “I’m a Mac, I’m a PC” television campaign by Apple may have contributed to building some of these ‘negative’ brand assets).

Dealing with conflicting brand images is always a little bit of a sticky spot, but there are a number of companies that have done it well by keeping their brands separate. The two examples that come to mind are Chipotle and Hulu.

Chipotle and Hulu are both (in my mind) very cool, hip, up and coming brands with positive brand attributes. By keeping separate from the corporations who own them (McDonalds for Chipotle and NBC/FOX for Hulu), they have insulated themselves from any possible negative or unintended brand attributes that might leak over from their owners. It’s true that when you keep a brand separate you have to begin the costly process of building a new brand from the ground up – but it has worked for Hulu and Chipotle – and imagine how you would feel if Hulu had the same conservative spin as the Fox News team, or if you walked into a Chipotle and saw a “McBurrito” on the menu.

(Please note, as stated in the footer of this site, the opinions expressed here are those of the author and not those of the company or clients for which he works)