Click Goodbye to Kodak

One of the earliest birthday gifts I remember getting was a 110mm camera from my 6th grade math teacher in Middle School. If that happened today, someone might report it to the principal but the reason was simple, we had the same birthday (and I like to think that I was his favorite student).   I thought nothing of it but it was all I could talk about for years.  I loved that thing!  I never ended up managing how to take a good picture of everyone without cutting off their heads but it was something I kept dear to me even after the back piece fell off.

As soon as I got that camera, I remember how I couldn’t wait to get to FedCo where I also got my first Kodak film.  At the time, Kodak was huge. Photo taking was synonymous with the name so imagine my amazement when I opened my email the other day to see that Kodak Gallery was being eliminated for good. I have to admit that I was not an avid user of it but it does beg the question…why not?

One Word Brands

Disney.  Nike. Coke.  Twitter.  Cartier.  When we hear these names, we immediately know what they are and who they represent.  At one point the brand recognition of Kodak was high.  You knew what it was and if you needed anything that had to do with pictures, Kodak was the brand you went to.  I imagined it to be utilized as a part of everyday speech like we do when saying “Google Me”, I’m Facebooking”, or as my mother used to say, “Get me the Kotex”.  So what happened? Now don’t get me wrong, it is still a household name but what happened to its sustainability?  According to Avi Dan, from Forbes.com, Kodak failed with their marketing approach.  Even after inventing the first digital camera in 1975, they neglected to adapt to the changing times and follow the necessary progression of film processing (Avi, 2012).

Other Alternatives

Even though we all know who Kodak is, the point still remains that they have filed for Bankrupt.  Anyone wanting to go to Kodak Gallery will now need to see Shutterfly.  As we continue to emerge into a society that is dependent on the newest and brighter things as they arise, we seek mediums that will allow us to do so.  MySpace didn’t work, because it too limiting as compared to Facebook.  Below are some Kodak Gallery alternatives that have been able to keep up to the demands (Petronzio, 2012)

  1. We all know what Google is, so their newest version of Picasa is connected with their Google+ which allows for easier uploading and sharing.
  2. Snapixel allows you to have 5GB of storage and immediately connects you with Twitter.
  3. As a file sharing website Flickr gives you the common usability’s in addition to clearly defining copyrights.
  4. As much as we are in a social media craze, SmugMug allows you to share your photos directly and through email. Being able to back up your information is a straight they also advertise.
  5. For those who do not want to deviate from the Kodak Gallery format, WinkFlash offers free unlimited photo storage with options to create photo booking projects.
  6. Then for those who don’t want to do any work like me, we’ll just let our information roll over into Shutterfly.

Strategic Branding

In Brand Media Strategy, Anthony Young tells us that in addition to getting a feel for a customers’ emotional response, a brand media strategy needs to offer a unique space for the brand to occupy and own (Young, 2010).  Kodak lost focus of what its customers needed and fell victim to a lack of popularity due to companies such as Canon and Sony.  By being unable to get with the digital age in time, we as consumers were unable to get with them.

It’s all sad really, but that’s life. I’ve been told that relationships change with time, they only last if you learn to adapt and except that change.   If I can go back, I’d advise Kodak (and while we’re at it FedCo) of that tidbit information.

References

Avi, D. (2012, January 23). Forbes. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/avidan/2012/01/23/kodak-failed-by-asking-the-wrong-marketing-question/

Petronzio, M. (2012, May 27). Mashable.com. Retrieved from http://mashable.com/2012/05/27/kodak-photo-sharing-sites/

Young, A. (2010). Brand media strategy: Integrated communications planning in the digital era. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

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12 Responses to Click Goodbye to Kodak

  1. David Ebmeier says:

    Dear Nkemdilim,

    Thanks very much for your informative posting. I too started shooting with Kodak film in 6th grade, so your post brought back some memories for me. When I heard that Kodak was filing for bankruptcy – I wondered how a such an iconic company could be going under. The brand recognition would seem to be off the charts considering the fact that Kodak is still used in popular songs today and generations have grown up with the brand for years.

    Sadly, it makes sense that Kodak had fallen behind its competitors. Although the decline had been slow and obvious to everyone paying attention (except to maybe Kodak) -I had hoped that they would be able to fix the situation before it was too late. If only. Your post was fun and interesting. Thanks again.

    • Nkemdilim Obiora says:

      David-

      I hoped so also. It looks like now when I ask my future kids what Kodak is, they’ll be telling me its the theater where they do Award Shows at (That’s if the name hasn’t changed by then).

  2. Gail says:

    I think Kodak was complacent and stuck in the past. The company failed to keep up with technology because it was used to being the leader of one particular niche. Just as so many current Fortune 500 organizations are stuck in their own ways of communications and fail to see the value in social media, Kodak didn’t plan for digital innovation. So, when digital disrupted the film industry, Kodak was the last one to see and understand the value. By then, you could say the writing was on the wall for the company. It is a shame to see such a power brand die out in bankruptcy due to lack of foresight. And it will be interesting to watch how the next generation of firms manage the disruption of social media.

    • Nkemdilim Obiora says:

      Gail-

      Social Media is a format that many are still refusing to recognize. As you mentioned, like Kodak, by the time they all get on board they would no longer be the innovators just ordinary. The same can be said for online education. How many institutions are still against the idea? How many corporations are secretly turning their nose up at this form of learning? Unfortunately, that’s what progress means. Some people get left behind while some move ahead. In today’s time, it will be the unorthodox and forward thinkers that will get far.

      Nonetheless, I think our biggest shocker is that its KODAK! Come on really?!?!

  3. hansonj says:

    This was a great example of how some companies that were at the top of their game at one point are now disappearing because they couldn’t keep up with technology/changing consumer needs. The story of Kodak is an interesting one. It was a mistake on their part to focus so much on film versus developing the technology to create their own cameras and compete in an aggressive marketplace. I remember Kodak having some cameras available but they could never compete, quality wise, with a Nikon or Olympus. As Young (2010) said, company planners have to look beyond a customer buying their product and must strategize how they will use the product and how new products could be introduced in the future.

    As an avid user of Shutterfly, I can tell you that they have the relationship building phase of the consumer pathway down. As Young (2010) outlined, the relationship building phase happens when a company makes the customer feel special by extending new products or benefits to them. I have made countless photo books through Shutterfly and when I’m in a pinch to get it on time, they have upgraded my shipping to make sure it arrives on time. Plus, because I’m such a frequent shopper, they’ll send me extra discount coupons or offers for free address labels. They seem like small gestures but to me, it’s evidence of their ability to “deliver more than promised” (Young, 2010). As a result, I remain loyal to the company, even though there are other companies out there. They’ve done a great job of notifying customers that Kodak photos are moving over to Shutterfly; I think I’ve received at least 3 emails about it, as the deadline approaches. They also have a handy FAQ page on their website for it: http://www.shutterfly.com/kodaknews/?pid=KDKG&psid=WEB&cid=KDKGFBPOST1&escFlag=1

    To me, Shutterfly’s acquisition of Kodak represents the “evolving media landscape” that Young (2010) explained was the reason brands are now being forced to catch up with consumers who want it all. And in the case of Kodak, some companies just can’t handle the innovation.

    • hansonj says:

      “HansonJ” would be Jennifer Hanson Davies, in case you were trying to figure it out. Fixed my username, I hope.

    • Nkemdilim Obiora says:

      Thank you for letting me know who you were Jennifer.

      I completely agree with your take on Shutterfly’s approach. They have obviously identified a niche and went for it. There have been many sources that continue to utilize because their freebees make me feel special. I almost feel like I owe them something because they are taking good care of me. But isn’t that their job? What do you think?

      When it comes to strategizing about the implementation of newer products in the future, I think a company should also take into account the possibility of advancements from bits of information that they put out. An example of this would be Kodak creating the digital camera but other companies using that technology to its fullest potential. Another would be how Tupac Shakur was able to come back to life at Coachella with advancements in holographic imagery.

  4. Sogol says:

    Nkemdilim, I felt nostolgic reading this! I had so much fun as a kid taking pictures and waiting a few days to see what they all looked like. Although I love knowing if I have taken a good photograph or not instantly, there’s something so nice about the anticipation of waiting. It’s somewhat upsetting knowing that people rarely print photographs anymore, but as expected, digital photography has changed many things. Kodak used to be a huge company synonymous with family vacations, memorable moments and moments people want to cherish and keep and share forever. It was a mistake on Kodak’s part for not incorporating new technology in its business model as film became obsolete. Although it introduced Kodak Gallery and other online services (online albums, ordering prints online, etc.) somehow it was just unable to keep up with consumers demands.

    • Nkemdilim Obiora says:

      Sogol, I think it was the nostalgia that kept us there so long. I honestly cant say why I didn’t move on to a better brand when my pictures would come back pixelated other than that was all there was to know, other than Fujifilm. There were some things that were mainly synonymous with one thing, and Kodak Film was one of them.

      Like you, I couldn’t wait to see my pictures. It felt like I put in work! Going to get the pictures was an adventure on its own. I loved putting my pictures in the sleeve, filling it out and turning it in. What was the number one rule? DON’T EXPOSE THE FILM TO SUNLIGHT! I forgot that sometimes. Can you blame me, I just wanted to see my picture. Anyway, picture taking showed allowed you to show your growth. It wasn’t long before I had my first real camera. I also remember begging for a Polaroid. There’s another one. We call instant film photographs, Polaroid’s after the company that invented the concept. My how time flies.

  5. Nicholas Rodgers says:

    This post triggered some memories that haven’t crossed my mind in a LONG time. I had that same exact 110mm camera, and I also loved to take pictures with it in middle school. My mom had to cut me off, because I was going through so much film. I can still hear the short click of the shutter and then the clicks from turning the dial to take the next photo. I agree with hansonj, that Kodak was just focused on the wrong product. Kodak built their whole business on film, not cameras. As mentioned by hansonj, Kodak made an attempt to develop cameras, but failed to produce a quality product, and the timing was already late. Kodak also made a move to work with digital files by placing Kodak Kiosks in various locations, where you could take your Memory Card, Memory Stick, Compact Flash, CD, and diskette to print your photos, or you could scan photos to burn to CDs. Seemed like a good approach for a little while, when printing color photos at home was expensive (glossy paper, printer, color ink), but then these items became cheaper. You mentioned that Avi Dan, from Forbes.com, said that Kodak failed because of their marketing approach, but I think their demise was far greater than a marketing communications reason. Kodak was just trying to hold on too long to their “cash cow” of film. On a side note, FedCo, wow, totally forgot about that place. Thanks for the post.

  6. Nkemdilim Obiora says:

    Hey Nicholas! I’m glad I can be a trigger to your memories.

  7. Meg Spitzer says:

    I, too, am feeling so nostalgic for my old 110mm camera! I used to trot around with my little Kodak taking all kinds of “candid” (read: weird) shots. Of course by middle school, my dad decided I was grown up enough for a 35mm Nikon… but anyway, it is kind of a mournful day when a company such as Kodak goes bankrupt. I actually had a much more recent brush with the brand in working one summer at the zoo. The zoo was really proud of themselves for rolling out Kodak’s “new” digital souvenir photos. The problems: (1) they weren’t that new–I had been getting similar ones at amusement parks for years prior, and (2) they were EXPENSIVE–charging something like $15.00 for a 4×6 print! Keep in mind that this was not Disney World but a local zoo where an adult admission would cost $20.00 Perhaps needless to say, the photo initiative lasted for a single season before the equipment was returned to Kodak. It kind of sums up their aforementioned complacency; Kodak seemed to spend the last decade or two engaging in halfhearted attempts to modernize… and doing little to tell people about it. Overall, outside of strictly marketing, this is a prime example (warning?) of dinosaur companies suffering at the hands of the new and the nimble. Thank you for your insight!