A Lesson in Branding
What you can learn from a 10-year-old
By Brent Niemuth
My 10-year-old son recently taught me a valuable lesson in branding. It was time to shop for new school shoes, and I was determined to stay within my budget, so our trip began at the local discount stores. Being an avid skateboarder, my son wanted a shoe style that reflected his skating lifestyle. I saw this as a benefit, since it would cut down on our shopping time. We would simply select an affordable pair that fit and be on our way.
How wrong I was. I offered pair after pair of generic skateboarding shoes in different styles and colors. But none of these shoes would do. You see, my son had to have Vans. Not just any skateboarding shoe, but Vans, a brand that has been around for a long time.
I tried to point out to my son that there really was no distinguishable difference between the $19 off-brand choices and the $60 Vans. They all had leather uppers. They all had logos stitched on the side. They all had the same sole. But to my son, they didn't have the same soul.That's what was making my son so adamant about Vans. They had a personality. They stood for something he believed in. The off-brand shoes were simply … shoes.
How did Vans manage to "brandwash" my 10-year-old son who didn't own a pair of its shoes? Vans has built a distinct brand image over the years. It has invested in its identity and knows exactly who its audience is and how to speak to it. It's managed to elevate its product from mere shoes to a lifestyle enhancement. Something all brands aspire to, but few achieve. How does it do this? By adhering to four proven tactics that solidify a brand in the marketplace and in the minds of consumers.