For as long as I can remember I’ve been intrigued (overly obsessed is probably more accurate) by the way brands distinguish themselves from others. This obsession probably has a lot to do with my age, where growing up in the era in which things like sneakers, video games and videos killing the radio star, began to steal minutes of my time every opportunity they could. Whether it was the MTV logo in the corner of the screen, the Atari logo on my first gaming system, or the Nike Swoosh I drew over and over again because the shoes didn’t fit the family budget, branding has been a part of everything in my life. The little details that help make a good product or service great, or an average product or service something I can’t lice without, can often times be simple and subtle.
In the late 80s and early 90s, nobody did detail better than Nike. Whether it was the hanging key chain, the “join Michael Jordan’s Flight Club, or any of the other “Just Do It” type of memories implanted deeply in my mind, Nike paid attention to every detail you could think of and even some you didn’t want to. Today, they’ve taken a different approach to their products. Marketing and building energy around their products has become the most important part of their brand, which is obviously still a winning approach, judging by any of the new released products, or more importantly, the stock price.
Today, the company that I feel has taken Nike’s place at the top of the list when it comes to branding themselves is Red Bull. I’ve been a consumer of Red Bull for quite a while now and one of my favorite things about it, aside from the wings it give me, is the pull-tab. The simple cut-out of the Red Bull logo was one of the first things I noticed when I tried the drink years ago and my eyes can’t seem to avoid it any time I mix up my favorite concoction of Red Bull and Pineapple-Orange juice.
The detail in the design of the can is just the beginning in a long list of things that I feel Red Bull does incredibly well to stay at the top of the competitive world of energy drinks. The online and print magazine that Red Bull recently launched is genius and one of my favorite efforts of the company. It allows them to connect to the passions of their customer base on a more personal level. Essentially, it’s the 2012 version of Nike’s Flight Club back in the early 90s.
Though I’ll be the first to tell you that I have a sever case of stick-it-to-the-man-neosis, I’d much prefer helping a small business succeed than a big business make stockholders fatter, but I think that there is a lot to be learned from big companies like Red Bull, who are taking extra steps to be more involved in their customer’s daily passions. This approach can be applied to every person too, not just businesses.
Putting in extra effort to become more knowledgeable or more involved with your customer’s lifestyle can make your product or service indispensable, or at least have the illusion of being indispensable, which is what marketing is all about, perception. As an employee, you can play both sides of the coin, becoming involved in your customer’s world can make you more valuable in your job but also more valuable to your customer should you change career paths or employers.
Creating a truly unique product or service isn’t an easy thing to do in an age where technology and social media makes us all content creators. It may not be a logo, or a club to join, but if you’re providing a product or service to a customer, paying attention to how your customer can better remember you or better integrate your product or service into their lives, is the best way to ensure they come back for more business.