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Of Expectations

Yesterday two big ‘brands’ took a knock.

Spain at the FIFA 2010 World Cup. This is a team that has seemingly the best collection of talent and widely expected to win, or at least is a strong contender for, the World Cup trophy this year. Last night’s match with Switzerland meant to be a mere formality. And they lost. Spain did.

Singapore’s Orchard Road: In a freaky rain storm yesterday morning parts of Orchard Road were flooded. Vehicles came to a stop. Shops were flooded. Parts of the road looked like a little river. The internet was flooded with pictures of the scenes, and most people’s comments hinged around ‘Really? In Singapore?”

Got me thinking of how expectations shape perception and vice versa.

I have noticed that one of the things Singapore does consistently well, especially in areas of infrastructure development, is to set ‘low’ expectations and beat it. Eg they may state that a portion of the road will be repaved by June 18th. And then complete the task by June 15th.

I know many office managers who do the same thing with their P&L forecasts.

This is not as easy as it appears, as the first set of expectations laid out need to be acceptable, impressive even. Saying you will fix a broken manhole cover in 2 weeks, and then beating it is silly. As is saying that it will be done in,say, an hour. That runs the risk of missing the deadline altogether.

Managing expectations is a fine art. A science even.

The expectation needs to build desire. Surpassing it creates the buzz.

In the world of brands, Apple does that reasonably well. On most occasions.

It probably peaked at the launch of the iPhone. There was expectation of it being a revolutionary new phone. But what was shown, and launched, beat all expectations. And a new success was born.

The iPad on the other hand suffered the problem of not living up to expectations.

Be it product marketing or personal life, balancing the desire to ‘show off’, ‘get the call’ v/s ensuring expectations are met, and even exceeded has to be a continual process.

Communications, be it created by marketers, or as part of creating a personal brand serve the critical role of defining that balance. Those that get it right are guaranteed success.

Those that don’t…remember Spain v/s Switzerland on June 16, 2010.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags: ,
  1. Asif Ansari
    June 17, 2010 at 8:19 am

    “The iPad on the other hand suffered the problem of not living up to expectations.”

    It may not have lived up to a lot of people’s expectations, but it’s still a runaway success…even by Apple standards. Despite being taken to the cleaners by many a harsh critic, more than 2 million were sold in the first 60 days. And it’s still difficult to get one on demand when you walk into a store in the US.

    But good, succinct article on the whole, Harish.

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