ARE YOU A SKEPTIC?
Do you doubt the Slow Burn Marketing Mantra--the one that says your brand is the one way you core customer should feel about your business?
Because certainly, there are the doubters out there.
There are those who argue that it's really all about having a better product, and making an intellectual argument for it.
Well then, just to prove a point (and have some fun at the expense of others), we are now going to look at a market where emotion rules.
This is a market where intellect flies out the window. The products are often ascribed evocative qualities they do not possess in any way. This is a market where the product name is all about imaginary sizzle and there is zero about product superiority in the initial effort to reach the customer.
WE ARE NOW SELLING YOU A FIBERGLASS BOX
A big, fiberglass box.
And it has wheels.
What's it for?
You tell me.
What on earth would you do with a gigantic fiberglass box called, "Raptor"?
Hmm. Raptor. A bird of prey. It has a talons designed for grabbing and clutching, and a beak designed for ripping and tearing. It has extraordinary eyesight and hunt with dead-accurate precision to survive.
THE RAPTOR IS A FEARSOME CREATURE
Members of its group are admired by Native American tribes who have made it a significant feature in their mythology. Various raptor names are used to honor their people.
The word comes from the French, "rapere," to seize or take by force.
Nothing says "Raptor" like a fiberglass box with wheels.
But then, there's another fiberglass box called, "Bighorn."
Another nod to the animal kingdom, the bighorn is a sheep.
This wild animal is revered among game hunters, and is another creature that figures prominently in the mythology of certain Native American tribes.
The animal is strong, and fearsome like the raptor, though for different reasons.
And nothing says, "Here's your fiberglass box with wheels" like a bighorn.
IN A DEPARTURE FROM FEARSOME CREATURES, MEET "PINNACLE"
We all know the pinnacle.
Fundamentally, a pinnacle is an architectural feature. It is long and pointy, like a small spire.
In nature, the rock pinnacle is a small spire of stone, often difficult to reach.
Metaphorically, the pinnacle has become something to which one aspires. The ultimate pinnacle is the success and greatness for which one was destined.
It's about aspirations and accomplishments.
One who has reached the pinnacle has arrived.
Nothing says "Pinnacle" like a fiberglass box with wheels.
Except, maybe, this next one.
PINNACLE, MEET "VENGEANCE"
It's root word is "Revenge," a form of justice usually taken outside the law. It is a form of payback, often made into a mission.
One wreaks vengeance upon one's enemies with great lust and zeal.
There is often tremendous blood spatter amidst a swinging of great blades.
Vengeance is raw and savage.
Vengeance feels good.
Or so we might imagine, for who among us has ever actually sought vengeance? But we can imagine!
Nothing says, "Vengeance" like a fiberglass box on wheels!
DO YOU WANT A FIBERGLASS BOX ON WHEELS NOW?
If so, which one?
And really, what are they?
A little backstory.
The Fabulous Honey Parker and I are on the road in the Mobile Branding Response Unit. (It is built on a precision German chassis and is small and fast.)
We've just driven from Utah on I-80, where we are finally preparing to leave this historic Interstate Highway to peel off into New Jersey.
But during the last several days, driving along flat, seemingly limitless expanses of great American farmland, we've seen a lot of these fiberglass boxes.
Watching their approach on the Westbound side of the highway, and looking at their names emblazoned on their gelcoat skins, it's a marvel how much they are a testimony to the irrational side of decision making.
BIGHORN AND BROOKSTONE, MEET MONTANA AND EXCEL
Names that all evoke a particular kind of machismo, but each one different and ranging from grandiose to absurd.
We are speaking, of course, of the fifth-wheel travel trailer.
The fifth-wheel trailer is usually quite large. People can live in them comfortably for months at a time.
They are typically towed using a full-size pickup truck with a fifth-wheel coupling in the bed, hence the name. The coupling is similar in design to the coupling you see on a tractor trailer.
They can cost from the mid-five figures into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
And the trailer names are all a product of an effort to evoke an emotional response in the prospect.
HOW ELSE DO YOU EXPLAIN NAMES RANGING FROM RAPTOR TO EXCEL?
Fundamentally, these boxes are all the same.
They are fiberglass boxes on wheels.
They contain furniture, kitchens and bathrooms.
And nothing that differentiates them from one another, from the range of conveniences to the quality of the appliances, speaks to anything like bighorn sheep or getting revenge upon an enemy.
How would one even enact revenge using a travel trailer? "Look at me! Living well is the best revenge! Ha! I smite thee!"
Especially if you want a deeply passionate outdoorsman to look at your trailer, you're probably going with Bighorn.
If you're attracting a motorsports enthusiast who takes the trailer to racing events, you might go with Vengeance.
If you're not really thinking about your customer's mindset too much and just want to pretend you're better than everyone else, maybe you go with Excel.
I WAS NOT IN THE ROOM WHEN THEY HAD THESE MEETINGS
One can only imagine the conversations.
"Our customer is more of a raptor in his characteristics."
It's like they have a special Chinese calendar of customer types. But nobody has named their trailer the Rat or the Pig.
How much fun would that be?
Anyway, the point being, if you've ever doubted the emotional component to branding, here is a great, big, shining example of emotional appeal run amok. There is zero effort to appeal to the prospect's rational side.
The products might as well be breakfast cereal. They are big boxes with wildly different names, but all are essentially the same inside.
If you want success in branding, marketing, sales and advertising, all but abandon the rational.
Yes, you need the rational parts to help justify the emotional satisfaction that comes from a silly name like Vengeance.
But in the end, if you don't get emotional and look for the evocative, you're going to be pulling your trailer uphill.
Your Lean, Mean Creative Director in
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Blaine Parker is prone to ranting about any and all things related to brand. In many ways, he is a professional curmudgeon. While there is no known vaccine for this, the condition is also not contagious. Unless you choose it to be so.