Micro Center + Microsoft = Brand Success

My dad is a computer geek, I am a computer geek, my husband is in IT and one of my kids is a gamer who watches "The Big Bang Theory" and "King of the Nerds" on TV.

I remember when everything was IBM, Lotus Notes, WordPerfect, and Microsoft was king. Apple was sort of like a joke company for people who couldn't use a real computer.

A few months ago I stumbled across a Micro Center. It was geek heaven - Sephora for computer freaks. It was unbelievable. There was all this STUFF laying around - all these cords, and parts and pieces with everything you could imagine to build or enhance your computer.

I had to go back several times before I even saw that they had a tiny Apple section, squished to the side.

As a brand person Microsoft's current woes are absolutely mystifying to me. With all the money and the brains that they have, can they not figure out how to edge out Apple once again?

The core problem at Microsoft is that they keep trying to copy Apple. This is the worst mistake any brand can make, especially a dominant one. It's like your grandmother wearing hipster clothes. It does not compute.

Previously I had shared an idea that they could use Sheldon ("Big Bang Theory") as a kind of spokesperson. Could work well - product placement and such.

But yesterday when I went to Micro Center - where they had all these posters on the wall honoring the "greats" of computer programming - it dawned on me: Microsoft and Micro Center absolutely go together. They are the same brand - in the sense that they occupy the same mind space.

Microsoft and Micro Center are both joy in geekiness. Pocket protectors. Programming. Wiring. Introversion. Socially awkward.

What Microsoft has to do to get back to being primary is buy out a place like Micro Center - have a chain of stores across the country - and simply call it "Micro Center by Microsoft."

Amazon sells products itself and through other vendors - Microsoft can keep the Apple corner where it is. Psychologically that would be a smart thing to do - literally "putting them in their place."

It wouldn't hurt to sponsor "The Big Bang Theory," either or even to establish a "Nerdvana" theme park.

Branding in the end is psychological, and social - it's a war of the mind. Microsoft can get back there again, they just have to stop playing to ingredient strategy and shift towards being a destination.