⟼ what is this?
A short academic report on eBay, showing the gap between what it wants to stand for and what it actually stands for – and suggesting how to close that gap.

⟼ what is this?
A short academic report on eBay, showing the gap between what it wants to stand for and what it actually stands for – and suggesting how to close that gap.

This case study is adapted from an academic work. It is essentially not a client project, with no direct contact with the brand in discussion. All discussed problems and proposed solutions are based on primary data collected within the timeframe and locational context at the time of research (Nov 2013) * BRILLIANTLY SIMPLIFIED LOGOS BY THE LOGO SMITH *

eBay &
its brand gap

Every brand is built with the desire to have a well-defined idea of its identity - its meaning for existence. However, it is not always the case that what the customers think of the brand matches what it wants to stand for. This is the identity crisis eBay is facing. The case study addresses what should be eBay's next step to bridge that gap and improve its brand image.

eBay &
its brand gap

Every brand is built with the desire to have a well-defined idea of its identity - its meaning for existence. However, it is not always the case that what the customers think of the brand matches what it wants to stand for. This is the identity crisis eBay is facing. The case study addresses what should be eBay's next step to bridge that gap and improve its brand image.

background

eBay started off in 1995 with the idea of an open person- to-person trading community. Over the years, it distinctively and confidently stood out of the competition with other rivals by consistently communicating its identity mostly known as a garage sale and auction house, allowing just any individual to launch their online business to sell rare, unique goods.

In 2008 the brand was elevated to stand for more than just auction-style listings. Referred to as "the new eBay", the brand is positioned as a global full-price shopping destination that offers more contemporary and consistent experience, with innovation that makes buying and selling easier and more enjoyable, said David Wenig, eBay's President. One of the important first moves was the launch of "Buy It New. Buy It Now." feature, promoting in favor of fixed-price item listings and larger merchants. The new business strategy targeted to shift customers' perception of eBay away from the "second-hand" towards "new" goods.

ebay-logo-02
ebay-logo-01

The new logo reflects a more modern and streamlined eBay while maintaining a strong connection to the original logo.

The new logo reflects a more modern and streamlined eBay while maintaining a strong connection to the original logo.

challenge

A quick survey was conducted on Norwich, UK to find out what people think of the brand. A tag cloud generated from their responses indicated that the eBay brand is poor (not conveying a handful of meanings - reponsdents on average came up with only 2-3 words to describe the brand) and tight (respondents shared a set of similar ideas about the brand).

Most importantly, it is identified that there is a gap between between what eBay wants to stand for and what it actually stands for in people's mind.

ebay@2x

Functionally, the brand faces the problem called the breadth of brand image when the public views the brand narrowly and overlooks a broader picture of the identity. People keep a firmly imprinted image of eBay as an auction house with fun and exciting biddings that offer them chances to acquire either used or new goods at a very cheap price. Considering the history and popularity of eBay, these associations are understandably sticky and deeply rooted.

Emotionally, people used to talk about how playful and quirky eBay was. Now with eBay's re-invented logo, it appears to people as "lost" and "boring". Despite its
proclaimed commitment to innovativeness, its new visual representation for the rebrand is considered too simple with a generic typeface. In absence of any exploration for unique, distinguishable elements, it is a tone-down on both originality and personality.

solution

At its core, eBay may justify its existence with a brand purpose that is more emotion-focused than function-focused like To make world a pleasant place to exploreThis aligns with eBay's essential function as a marketplace, where people browse through pages to look for their desirable products - to 'explore'. It also matches eBay's commitment in technology innovation to deliver friendly and consistent user experience - being 'pleasant'. Most crucially, it is free from profit-driven driving factors, making it more easily relatable to people.

This, then, can translated into a brand proposition of Surprisingly pleasant findings, emphasizing one of eBay's strongest association, variety of choices, and manages to be inclusive of the market of small, second-hand good sellers (by not identifying the type of goods). It is also an attempt to diffuse the association with eBay being "cheap". With its brand purpose being benefit-driven, it does not make sense to promote price as a value, because if price is everything then the low-cost players will be the only winner. Therefore price should not be in consideration for eBay's proposition.

Way back in 2008 when eBay launched its campaign tagline "Buy It New. Buy It Now.", it fired up massive dissatisfactions from merchants who used auction arrangement. eBay's move was considered unfair, uncaring and deplorable to its original users. As an umbrella tagline for the whole brand, the new tagline should not spark any so-called "discrimination" between merchants of different scales and arrangements. The pleasure of exploring (is all that matters) does not only convey the brand purpose to the shoppers but also emotionally encourages auction-style sellers to continue their business on eBay, for the sake of everyone's pleasure rather than anything materialistic.

ebay