Ookla®: A Brand that Has Become a Global Industry Standard thru its Narrow Focus on Network Intelligence

When it comes to internet testing, data and analysis anywhere in the world, one brand has emerged a clear global market leader.

I’m referring to internet speed testing brand Ookla®, founded in 2006.

Badge in Globe Telecom’s Homepage

A few days ago, I logged into Globe Telecom‘s website to pay for my July 2022 mobile phone bill. And on the homepage of Globe®, this badge on the left caught my attention.

Homepage of Globe Telecom with a prominent feature of the badge that features Ookla®

The phrase “Analysis by Ookla® of Speedtest Intelligence® data Q1 2022” intrigued me. I’m familiar with Ookla® since I personally use it myself on my iPhone® and on my MacBook® to test the speed of the internet service provider that I’m using either at home or elsewhere in the country or abroad. But I never realized that it is considered an industry standard by leading telecoms in the country and around the world.

I also never appreciated how deep and broad this brand has been able to establish itself in the world through its narrow focus on ‘Network intelligence to enable modern connectivity‘.

Before we dig deeper into Ookla®, let’s revisit the second of six principles of brand positioning according to Laura Ries which is ‘Narrow your focus‘.

Narrow Your Focus

In The Brand Architecture course which I’ve now been conducting for over a year through both public and private seminars either virtually or face-to-face, the second key principle of brand positioning that I teach my students is ‘Narrow your focus‘. This is taken from the six principles of brand positioning developed by Laura Ries, daughter and business partner of world-reknowned brand guru Al Ries.

Taken from ries.com, the second positioning principle developed by Laura Ries.

In previous blogs, we’ve featured highly successful local and international brands which exemplify this principle of ‘Narrow your focus‘ including Philippine brand Potato Corner® (‘World’s Best Flavored Fries), American brand Cotopaxi® (‘Gear for Good’), and Indonesian brand Gojek® (‘To remove friction from people’s lives), amongst others.

The ‘narrow focus‘ of a brand can usually be derived from either its battlecry (aka slogan) or its mission statement. In the course ‘The Brand Architecture’, I use Apple® (‘Think different‘) and Starbucks® (‘One person, one cup at a time‘) as the primary examples to explain this principle.

I always emphasize to those attending the course that ‘narrow your focus‘ does not mean narrow your market. But rather, ‘narrow your focus‘ means that you focus on a singular concept or idea and fully exploit the depth and breadth of that concept or idea. And the innovation possibilities are truly endless as a brand keeps its focus on its singular concept or idea. However, a brand must remain disciplined with respect to cohesion and consistency when pursuing these various initiatives across its marketing mix.

Al Ries with daughter and business partner Laura Ries, President of Ries & Ries

“Good things happen when you narrow your focus.”

Al Ries

Truly, good things happen when you narrow your focus.

Just look at Apple®, the world’s first three trillion US dollar brand.

In my January 2022 blog on Apple®, I covered its ‘Walled Garden‘ product strategy which demonstrates what I mean by exploiting the depth and breadth of a concept or idea, and remaining cohesive and consistent with that idea.

Apple®‘s singular concept or idea is ‘Think Different‘. With its Walled Garden product strategy, the brand is able to further solidify its positioning by ensuring that its products are designed and built in a truly unique manner that has been the hallmark of any Apple® product since the launch of the iMac® back in the late 1990’s. This cohesion and consistency continued with the launch of the iPhone®, MacBook Air®, iPad® and more.

The new Apple® headquarters known as ‘Spaceship‘ which was inaugurated in 2017.

Of course, not only did Apple® apply its narrow focus on its products strategy, but even in their marketing communication strategies (starting with the ‘I’m a Mac‘ campaign in the 1990’s), their store designs, and even with the design of their new headquarters dubbed as the ‘Spaceship‘ which was inaugurated five years ago in Cupertino, California.

Apple® is just one example. The truly successful brands can trace back their success and endurance to this foundational brand positioning principle of ‘Narrow your focus‘.

Ookla®‘s Narrow Focus: Network Intelligence to Enable Modern Connectivity

As I mentioned earlier, I’ve been using Ookla® on my iPhone® and my MacBook® for several years already. I use it simply for testing the speed of the the internet connection that I am using either at home or elsewhere. But other than this rather mundane activity of speed-testing, I had very little interest in the brand. I even thought that it is just one of those free apps developed which has no significant business model behind it. Little did I know that the brand is actually a global multi-million dollar revenue company which has had a significant and wide-ranging impact especially within the telecommunications industry across the world.

Ookla’s 2021 Report on the State of 5G Worldwide

“For almost two decades, Ookla’s data-backed insights into the performance, quality, and accessibility of networks have driven industry advancement. Whether you’re interested in the rollout of an emerging technology or a country’s telecommunications landscape, Ookla distills the noise to deliver what you actually need to know to stay competitive.”

Ookla® Website

With its narrow focus on ‘Network intelligence to enable modern connectivity‘ the brand has rolled out and maintains a range of products which help in delivering on this mission. Catering to both enterprises and consumers, Ookla® has products like:

  • Speedtest® –  consumer-initiated tests that measures performance and quality of an internet connection. 
  • Speedtest Intelligence® – offers up-to-date insights into global fixed broadband and mobile performance data based on millions of consumer-initiated tests taken every day with Speedtest®.
  • Cell AnalyticsTM – provides a comprehensive platform for mobile network operators to understand their networks and identify the areas that need improvement.
  • Cell Maps® – a user-friendly, interactive mapping platform that helps show customers where they can expect to experience a quality connection.
  • Downdetector EnterpriseTM – provides early alerting on service issues — often before internal monitoring tools can detect a problem.
  • Map Elements® – an award-winning, cloud-based service that helps business groups within organizations make smart decisions by visualizing wireless, cable, broadcast, and landline network coverage intelligence.
  • And more
Speedtest®, the flagship product of Ookla

Amongst all its products, Speedtest® is by far the brand’s flagship product which has been used in over forty billion consumer-initiated tests in determining the quality of the internet connection around the world since the founding of the brand in 2006. This unparalleled amount of data and intelligence provides the backbone by which the brand is able to provide its enterprise solutions that cater to a wide range of customer segments including mobile network operators, internet service providers, governments and regulators, infrastructure and tower providers, and hardware manufacturers.

How Ookla®‘s Speedtest Intelligence® Helped A Rural Region in Louisiana Secure a US$30Million Grant to Fund High-Speed Internet

To highlight how the brand has been able to exploit the depth and breadth of its narrow focus, one of the case studies that showcases how the brand’s positioning has made a significant impact in a rural region in the USA is the story of the Acadiana region of Louisiana made up of the Parish governments of Acadia Parish, Evangeline Parish, and St. Landry Parish. Historically, this region lacked equitable access to high-speed internet connectivity.

The Acadiana Planning Commission (APC), responsible for the region’s economic and community development, wanted to provide better educational and economic opportunities by improving broadband access. The APC applied for funding through the NTIA Broadband Infrastructure Program, which has made $288 million in Federal funding available to help close the digital divide in the United States. There were over 230 applicants, and only 13 grants were awarded“, says the Ookla website. Acadiana region was one of those 13 applicants who were granted.

This was made possible since APC was able to successfully challenge and prove to the FCC (or Federal Communications Commission) that the latter’s internet mapping data was flawed by overlaying the data provided through Ookla’s Speedtest Intelligence® enterprise solution.

Based on these findings, the APC challenged approximately 1,000 census blocks across six parishes that comprise the Acadiana region and was successful in 900 of those challenges. Speedtest data helped APC demonstrate that FCC data was inaccurate, and many residents in those 900 blocks did not have access to broadband.”

FCC data showed that the entire parish was served with speeds between 25-50 Mbps, however Speedtest® data revealed that many locations were actually underserved (represented by the red dots on the map).

The US$30 million grant will fund the project which aims to connect 22,196 unserved households, 3,723 unserved businesses, and 46 unserved community institutions with broadband. The project will cover 100% of unserved households in its service area of the Acadia, Evangeline, and St. Landry Parishes.” No less than US Vice President Kamala Harris and Deputy Secretary of Commerce Don Graves visited Louisiana in March of 2022 to announce that the APC had been awarded a US$30 million grant. “We know that this area is one of the most challenging areas in the country as it relates to connectivity to high speed internet, and so what we’re trying to do is get the most bang for the buck,” said Graves.

This one story of Acadiana demonstrates how Ookla® was able to fully exploit its narrow focus on ‘Network intelligence to enable modern connectivity‘ to deliver real value and improved lives across thousands of households and small businesses in an unserved region in rural America.

This brilliant brand leaves us with this key lesson:

If a brand is able to remain disciplined on its narrow focus, it will be able to continually innovate with products and services which could provide real value and benefits for its customers. The Acadiana case study shows us that because Ookla® is laser-focused on network intelligence, its Speedtest Intelligence® platform became a go-to solution for the APC in achieving its objective of securing funding for high-speed internet for its unserved region. Having a clear narrow focus helps establish a brand in the minds of its target market as not only unique, but a leading provider of such product or service.

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2 thoughts on “Ookla®: A Brand that Has Become a Global Industry Standard thru its Narrow Focus on Network Intelligence

  1. Hey, great read! I particularly enjoyed your in-depth discussion of the narrow focus, since it was something I hadn’t really thought of before. Being a fellow blogger myself, I also really appreciate how organized and well-formatted everything was – it definitely made the content much more digestible overall. Keep up the awesome work!


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