Bringing Customer-Focus to Microsoft’s Brand Portfolio

The following is one example of cg42’s work with Microsoft as part of a long standing relationship since 2011.

Microsoft had a brand portfolio that had grown and become more complex due to a culture that rewarded “shipping the next product”, a long series of acquisitions that had not been fully integrated, and a diverse product-set that covered a myriad of b-to-c and b-to-b customer segments/use-cases.

In particular, they had lost the ability to leverage their flagship brands to drive awareness and adoption of recent innovations and their “smaller” brands were having a very difficult time in gaining the level of visibility/market traction necessary to grow and thrive. As a result, they struggled with a high degree of waste in their marketing investments, a higher overall cost structure, and slow overall growth rates.

The Skinny

They struggled with a high degree of waste in their marketing investments, a higher overall cost structure, and slow overall growth rates.

Our Managing Partner, Steve Beck, led the team that helped Microsoft develop a brand portfolio strategy that reflected both the current economics of its portfolio and its growth prospects. We helped give the portfolio a coherent customer focus that positioned the company to re-invigorate its flagship brands while properly positioning them for greater levels of product-service integration, and recommended that they divest themselves of brands not aligned to this strategic focus.

The actions we identified resulted in the substantial streamlining of the portfolio, from over 300 “brands” (less than 50 of which had actually established any substantial levels of market traction), down to less than 10 “strategic brands” that would garner the lion’s share of Microsoft’s marketing investments and offer innovation going forward.

Following the cg42 engagement, Microsoft:


Shifted its resources and organizational focus to their highest-priority customer segments.


Reinvigorated existing leadership businesses (i.e., Office)


Aligned the company behind the major “strategic brands”


Accelerated growth rate in once problematic emerging categories (i.e., MBS, Xbox, Consumer Online Services)

The cg42 Brand Portfolio Assessment Dashboard includes:

Category 1

How many “real brands” (vs. offering names) does Microsoft currently support in its Portfolio?

  • Awareness
  • Familiarity
  • Associations
  • Consideration
  • Customer Satisfaction

Category 2

What is the relative strength of the “real brands” Microsoft is currently supporting in its Portfolio?

  • Brand Preference
  • Customer Effort
  • Loyalty / Switching
  • Advocacy
  • Market Presence
  • Differentiation / Permission
  • Vulnerability / Risk
  • Awareness to Consideration
  • Efficiency
  • Consideration to Usage Efficiency

Category 3

Which of the “real brands” and/or offering segments are “strategically important” to Microsoft’s long-term health and growth?

  • Alignment with Business Vision
  • Growth Potential
  • Revenue Preservation
  • Profit Contribution
  • Acquisition Rate
  • Churn Rate
  • Marketing Investment
  • Alignment with Future Positioning
  • Gateway Potential Partner Satisfaction

Ready to begin?

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