Steve Yegge

How to Ignore Marketing and Become Irrelevant in Two Easy Steps
23 minutes, 10.8mb, recorded 2007-07-26
Steve Yegge

If you're a software developer, you already know who Steve Yegge is.  Developers all over the world spend a lot of their time reading or commenting on his blog when they're not writing code. Steve Yegge, senior software engineer at Google, an ex-employee of Amazon, one of the most widely read bloggers, an excellent hacker, and an outrageously funny chap, talks about why branding is so important.

The look, feel, packaging, and naming of a product, i.e. the brand, is more powerful than the function. The old adage, “if you build it, they will come,” doesn’t hold ground. Steve recounts regular anecdotal failures in marketing history, products that were better than the competitors, but scored poorly with the public for lack of brand equity. A catchy, spooky, wicked or shocking product name is an essential ingredient for creating a brand. The name eBay beats any day, or Eclipse sounds much better than IBM VisualAge for Java, as Nabisco works better on the popularity scale than National Biscuit Company. Choose a 'not stupid' brand name.

The success of a brand rests on publicity rather than advertisement. Perl and Rails, for instance, have earned early recognition because of good publicity.

In geek terms, Steve says, a brand is like a const pointer to a known product, idea or concept. Consumers internalize brand names and adamantly commit their loyalty to, or alternatively form negative opinions against, them. In some cases, the time required to change public perception in favor of a brand is as long as a human generation. In a few years, Java, though it will not be defunct, may be thought of by the next generation as a programming language of an ancestral era. According to Steve, JavaScript is in serious need of a name change. And, the moniker open source doesn't trigger any one particular idea in a consumer's mind, so that, too, is a vague term.

Steve Yegge started high school at age 11 and graduated at 14. He then made the only logical choice, which was to play guitar in garage bands until he was 18, when he joined the U.S. Navy as a nuclear reactor operator. Steve went on to earn his B.S. in computer science from the University of Washington, then spent five years at Geoworks developing operating systems software in 8086 assembly language. He worked at various startups, and then spent just under seven years at as a senior software development manager. In his spare time Steve built a massively multiplayer RPG that garnered him a grand prize at Comdex in 2002. Steve has been a Googler since 2005 and plans to stay there forever.


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