My name is LARRY VINCENT. I'm a writer, speaker, photographer and lovable nerd based in Los Angeles. When I'm not writing here about things that inspire me, I look after The Brand Studio at United Talent Agency.
For those who follow my blog, you know that I have a fondness for the gang at Dollar Shave Club. For those who are new to the conversation, in 3 previous posts I discussed how this new brand took a fairly commoditized product (razors) and developed a compelling brand experience that has won legions of fans. What I love most about the brand is the consistency of the experience it delivers and the authenticity of its brand voice.
Perhaps the video goes a little far with its #2 references, but I have to commend the team on two fronts. First, when you think about it, this is a brilliant extension to the product line. Like razor blades, moist wipes are a bathroom item that we easily forget to buy and often regret not having. For a small addition to the monthly fee, members can receive a fresh packet of One Wipe Charlies every month and put worries aside.
Second, the creative execution of this latest extension continues the legacy of clever writing and simple design that first established the brand. And it sustains an experience that delights members while staying true to its promise.
As a bonus, I received a mailing from the team on about the same day as the video launch. First, there was a letter from Michael Dubin announcing the new product.
Followed by a sample of the new product and some inspirational accessories.
I have a confession to make. I am terrible with names. Though I never find it difficult to create brand names for clients, I struggle to remember the name of the person I just met. Most of the time, I feel anxious that I will get someone’s name wrong, so I end up referring to them in the most generic way possible. “That’s a really interesting point … you … guy with the pink shirt.”
While my conversational skills are slightly better than the above snippet, I kept thinking about this character flaw on my way home from a busy weekend at South by Southwest, where I met dozens of new people (and numerous new brand names). Many of the people I met knew my name. They greeted me in a lobby with a firm handshake and a confident, personalized introduction. I tended to recall the names of people who knew my name more than people who didn’t. It got me to thinking about the way brands focus on names.
There isn’t a bigger forum for television advertising than the Super Bowl. It was once Carnegie Hall and the Grand Ole Opry rolled into one—a place for brands and their agencies to raise the stakes and entertain the largest television audience in the world. Some of the most memorable advertisements of all time debuted on a Super Bowl broadcast. So, why was 2013 so lackluster?
Some might say there’s a rebel in all of us. At some point in your life you probably felt the urge to break the rules. Maybe you crossed the street when that hand was flashing on the signal. Or maybe you zealously removed the tag from your mattress. Each of us, in our own way, has a wild side.
That’s why it is no surprise that a lot of business managers are enamored with the challenger brand. It’s the lovable outlaw of branding, thumbing its nose at the establishment and disrupting the status quo while being idolized as the quintessential cool kid of the category. The concept of a challenger brand is anything but new. Adam Morgan has written prolifically about what makes a challenger brand since publishing his findings from a global study of 50 companies in 1999. But I’ve noticed rising interest in challenger brand strategies over the past year or so. I’m asked a lot about them at speaking events and during interviews, and I’ve heard many a prospective client tell me they think of themselves as a strong challenger.
Unfortunately, a lot of the conversations I overhear and advice that I happen across about becoming a challenger brand or embracing a challenger brand strategy is woefully misguided. I dedicated a good chunk of a chapter in my book Brand Real to the context of challenger brands in positioning strategies because a brand does not default to a challenger position simply because it isn’t the leader of its category. A challenger brand is a unique species that is identified by three essential characteristics.
Brands only accrue value through the delivery of exceptional experiences.
I had the privilege of writing a piece for the July issue of European Business Review, which was released today. I returned to my favorite topic: how branding is a strategic discipline that must be managed by the most senior leadership of an organization. I’ve been really excited to hear more leaders and critics alike discussing the meat of a brand, instead of the sizzle. I firmly believe we are at a moment in time in the business community where leaders are re-evaluating how they go about building strong brands. Some of these evaluations are by choice, others by compulsion. Because “the brand” has become so important to any successful business, I am hopeful that more leaders will recognize it is not something that lives exclusively in the domain of the marketer.
Human beings are natural categorizers. We introduced our planet to the Dewey decimal system, the periodic table of elements, and an onerous set of entertainment awards. We can’t help ourselves. We even sort people into types. Conservative or liberal. Lover or fighter. Pisces, Sagittarius, or Virgo. These categorizations do more than create order for us. They create meaning. When we learn someone is a Pisces, we might assume that the person is moody, creative, and quiet, even though the person could just as easily be loud and analytical. Though we are often counseled to avoid stereotypes, stereotyping is an example of our natural human instinct to understand something and attach meaning to it as a result of the category to which we think it belongs. Brand architecture relies on this categorization instinct. It preserves and creates value for brands in a portfolio by suggesting how people should categorize them.
My Monday morning ritual is deeply ingrained. I arrive early to find a stack of advertising and media trades to digest before launching into my client work for the week. One of those trades is AdWeek. I’ve been reading it for years but only recently noticed a new behavior on my part. When I come across the review of the week’s featured campaign I have to fire up my browser and search for the spot online so that I can view it. In years past this would have never been the case. I would have seen the spot during my television viewing. Lately, I can’t recall which advertisements I’ve seen on television.
Explaining why a chocolate cupcake tasted so divine makes us love the cupcake a little less, while explaining why a movie was so horrible makes us hate the movie a little less.
// Sarah G. Moore Assistant Professor, University of Alberta School of Business Author of “Some Things Are Better Left Unsaid: How Word of Mouth Influences the Storyteller.” Journal of Consumer Research: April 2012
What is “brand experience.” While a lot of managers talk about the importance of brand experience, it’s awfully hard to find agreement about what, exactly, brand experience is. At the simplest level, brand experience lives exclusively in our minds. It is impossible for me to know whether or not your brand experience matches mine because how we perceive the brand is so subjective. A brand experience affects what we think, feel and do as a result of interaction with the brand. Of these three dimensions, perhaps none is more valuable than the “do” part.
With most of the business press focused on the $1 billion acquisition of Instagram yesterday, you might have missed the big news surrounding a 126 year-old social networking company that generated more than $10 billion in revenue last year. Avon Products announced a new CEO: Sherilyn S. McCoy, who was previously a senior executive at Johnson & Johnson. McCoy has a big job ahead of her. Avon has struggled with declining sales, unsolicited takeover offers, and decreasing consumer relevance. What can this dowager brand do to become strong again? I suggest that McCoy look sideways at three relevant brands who have focused on their promise to develop fierce customer loyalty.
When my daughter Jordan was diagnosed with a rare brain tumor in 2003, our whole family began a journey that has led us through many unexpected twists and turns. I write about this ongoing adventure and the girl that is my muse here.