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Kodak Was First to Digital

Kodak means film photography. Kodak doesn’t mean digital photography.


I hope Kodak pulls themselves back to profitability, I still prefer to use their photo paper when creating framable prints, and while I shoot mostly digitally these days, when I do shoot film, I nearly always use Kodak film.

All that said, Al Ries of Ad Age disputes the oft-told reason for Kodak going bankrupt, namely that Kodak was too slow to recognize digital photography was the future.

Conventional logic blames Kodak’s weak position on the product. Why is this so? Because most people believe the better product wins in the marketplace. And since Kodak is No.6 in the market, it obviously didn’t have the better product. Nice, tightly-reasoned thinking. Who can argue the point? I can. What’s the difference between Kodak photographic film and Kodak digital cameras? Kodak means “film” photography. Kodak doesn’t mean “digital” photography.

When a category is changing, the worst thing that can happen to a brand is being stuck in the past. The Kodak brand was stuck in the past and the only thing that could have saved the company was a second brand.

Kodak should have given its digital brand a different name than its film brand.

There’s a lot of evidence the brand name “Kodak” is not worth much outside of photographic film. Consider the introduction of the following Kodak products that never achieved much success.

In 1975, Kodak plain-paper copiers.

In 1976, Kodak instant cameras.

In 1984, Kodak videocassette recorder and cameras.

In 1985, Kodak floppy disks.

In 1986, Kodak batteries.

In 2005,

In 2007, Kodak ink-jet printers.

There are a lot of reasons for a product to fail, but two of the most important reasons are: (1) the product itself and (2) the name. But nobody ever seems to consider the latter. It’s always the former.

(click here to continue reading Marketing Myth-Busting: Kodak Was First to Digital | Al Ries – Advertising Age.)


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