Old Dog. New Tricks. Marshall builds a phone.

Today’s blog is a story of diversification, but it’s one of the coolest ones I’ve seen in quite some time.

Guitarists around the world know the “Marshall” brand well. The brand has enjoyed 50 years as one of the most recognised guitar amplifiers in the world, famous for it’s signature ‘crunch’ sound.

This year, Marshall will launch one of their biggest diversification moves in the company’s history with the birth of a new smart phone. It’s called the “London” and in true style, they have kept true to the brand and built the world’s first ‘rock and roll’ device. It looks pretty cool.

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This from their website:

“The revolution has begun. It started way back in 1962 with the birth of the very first Marshall amp. It grew louder on a festival stage in upstate New York during the summer of ‘69. Each decade since it has grown stronger, burning an everlasting imprint on the lives of millions who choose to walk in its path. The time has come to witness the next chapter in this storied tale of rock ‘n’ roll. It’s time to change the way you use music. Join the revolution.”

The critics have been positive and believe it’ll be well received into the market. I find this funny. It’s a phone. They build amps. Why do critics agree it feels right for Marshall? Well let me show you why with four reasons why Marshall is onto a good thing.

 

1. Diversifying whilst staying true to yourself earns you more fans.

We live in a new world. Let’s not mistake the rate of change for the old normal. There is a new normal that we’re getting used to and things are so vastly different. Diversifying isn’t just an opportunity. For many it’s a necessity. Perhaps Marshall looked forward and saw limited growth opportunities in their existing market and started thinking outside of the box. They understand music and they do great sound. They may have strayed pretty far from home base by building a phone but in doing so, they’ve remained true to themselves when they focused it on what they are good at – music and sound.

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2. The power of brand consistency.

If you know the Marshall brand, you’ll see this phone and feel at home. What an incredible thing to achieve. They have built a product that represents the rich history they are known for whilst pushing them forward into the future of technology. It feels like Marshall and I think they’ll do well because of it.

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3. Achieving best in class turns heads

This story inspires me to find opportunities to diversify because what Marshall have done is found a way to insert their expertise into a category where they can hold a differentiated best in class. Will they have the fastest Internet browsing? Don’t know. Will their messaging feature be any good? Don’t care. But will the sound and music features be a step above anything else on the market? Yes, yes and yes. In releasing the “London” phone, they jump straight to the top of their ‘class’ by differentiating through their brand expertise.

And that is what people will talk about. They’ll write about the leather texture and the multiple jack inputs. They’ll talk about the speaker quality and the headphones that come with the phone.

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4. Find a bigger market and grow.

Why not enter one of the biggest markets in the world? According to the Pew Research centre, 90% of Americans use a cell phone and over 50% of those owners use it for music. That’s an extraordinary statistic that is globally similar.

The truth is, we hardly use a phone as a phone anymore. It’s a personal device and Marshall saw an opportunity to build something vastly different from the competitors. No doubt see other brands enter this space and try do the same. It’ll be exciting to watch.

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Are you going to buy one? I’m definitely tempted.

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