What can your brand learn from Windex?

Posted by Keith Jolie on Wednesday, February 27, 2013 Under: Brand Building

A couple of quick stories here that may help you re-think how you look at your brand(s) and the ways that you present them to your target market.

They both focus on one brand family, the S.C. Johnson wax company.

Back in the late 90's I was out with an executive from S.C. Johnson and he was recalling a visit with one of the S.C. Johnson family (yep...it really is a family company) to their Canadian operations.  During their visit, he discussed getting his start in the family business.  He had an idea for a new product, and took it to his fathers office to discuss moving forward with production.  His father asked him one simple question.  "What makes it better than other similar products on the market?"

In a market filled with "me too" services and products it can be a very worthwhile exercise to ask yourself that question as you introduce a new product or service.  Is it better and and in what way is it better than what is being offered by your competitors.  In the S.C. Johnson story, he was unable to answer the question for his father, and that meant heading back to the drawing board (at least from a marketing perspective).

Once you can answer the "what's better" question, you have a jumping off point for the rest of your branding.

The second story is related.   Are you familiar with Windex?  what makes it a better glass cleaner than other similar products?  If you answered Ammonia-D, then you'd be both right and wrong.

Ammonia-D doesn't exist - except as a trademark and marketing spin.  Originally it was a tradename created for the Ammonia (yep, just plain old ammonia) that was used in Windex.  So in a cluttered shelf full of glass cleaners, Windex was the only one with Ammonia-D, or more correctly Windex was the only product allowed to state that it had Ammonia-D, but the reality was that many glass cleaners also used ammonia as their active cleaning agent.

Windex advertising always pointed out that it was the only one with Ammonia-D

Incidentally, Ammonia is not actually used in Windex any more, and Ammonia-D now refers to a combination of Alcohols and other chemicals (you can find the exact combination by referring to the MSDS on-line)

Branding is, at its core, the exercise of attaching a uniquely recognizable signature to your services or products.  This is why consumer products have names.  It's not bread...it's wonder bread, it's not a car....it's a mustang, it's not a toasted wheat circle...it's a Cheerio..you get the idea.

For an established brand, who has built a reputation that is respected, their name has recognition based on their history (and so a lot of older companies have family names or location names at their core).  For new products or companies competing against established brands, focussing on what is better, highlighting what is unique or exclusively available from you and clearly communicating that in both name and message will only help you to enter the market successfully.

By Keith Jolie

In : Brand Building 

Tags: branding competition windex 
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