Jan 7, 2009

Space Agencies are Brands Too

At first glance some people may find the idea absurd, but space agencies can in fact be viewed as brands with their own intrinsic commercial value. That is the finding by this recent Practicum Study by the Kogod School of Business.

How can a government-funded entity have useful brand value? Well, one only has to think back to the Space Race Version 1.0 (i.e. the race to land humans on the Moon) to see the resulting brand value for NASA, which is now a household name all around the world.

In fact, the Kogod study recommended that the "NASA" brand provides a unique "unexploited value to the American taxpayer". But how could that value be realized?

Some direct ways for NASA to capitalize on its brand value would be to sell the rights to show the famous "NASA" logo on products or to link the NASA brand to commerical brands in advertising campaigns. The revenues earned from the sale of such rights would then be available to NASA for use on new space projects (which might in turn lead to even higher brand value!).

But in the context of the Google Lunar X PRIZE (GLXP) there is an even more interesting idea.
Many other space agencies around the world currently have rather weak brands. To improve public awareness, those agencies could use technologies developed under private funding by GLXP teams to fast-track the development and execution of their government-funded missions. Don't forget, the ultimate customers of the space agencies are the tax-payers of the respective nation/s, and which tax-payer will vote for a government that wants to spend billions on a a space agency that they've never even heard of?

How much do you think a space agency like ESA or ISRO would like to have its logo (next to the national flag/s of course) on a rover driving across the surface of the Moon or Mars? Food for thought for those entrepreneurial types trying to put together a business plan for the GLXP.

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Michael Mealling said...

IMHO, there is a world of difference between the "space" brand and branding by a space agency. Many of us on the entrepreneurial side are working hard to build a brand that distinct from space agencies. We are attempting to educate the market place that space is a place, not a government program. THAT is the beauty behind GLXP: it isn't taxpayer funded and the teams have little to no space agency support.

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