First, a brand that consistently sticks to its value system is not only a brand to be admired – but one that should be mimicked, too.
For example, take a certain furry marmot that gets pulled out of a top hat by the scruff of his neck every Feb. 2. Remarkably, news teams from around the globe rush to rural western Pennsylvania to see whether the sleepy groundhog’s shadow predicts six more weeks of winter, or an early spring.
It seems absurd, doesn’t it? Yet Groundhog Day is all about branding. Why else would the national media suck up valuable air time each year just to see what Phil has up his sleeve? Or, more accurately, what Phil’s handler has at the end of his sleeve? (That would be Phil.)
Many of the festivities that surround Groundhog Day have all the earmarks of a successful brand. Let’s begin with Phil himself. He’s remarkably consistent and predictable. In fact, for more than 120 years, the world has stopped to witness Phil’s weather prognostications. That’s a level of consistency that every business should strive to match whether they’ve been around for 120 years or 120 days. And his predictability reflects the kind of interaction you want your customers to experience with your brand. It should deliver on your brand promise every time your customer comes into contact with it.
At this point you might say to yourself: I think Lou is losing his mind!
But I digress. (To borrow a phrase from another burrowing branding genius, Bugs Bunny.)
Phil’s remarkable success has led many bucktoothed wannabes to try and imitate the innovative rodent; but they’re no more successful fooling the public than storefront Santa’s shaking their plaintive bells during the holidays. In other words, they (like Staten Island Chuck) are no match for the real deal. Only Phil has earned the cachet that comes with being first out of the gate, or in his case, first out of the hole.
Why? It’s all due to great branding.
Heck, Phil even has his own “brand ambassadors” – his attendants who trumpet his appearances. They spread the gospel according to Phil by their deportment and their classic black top hats and tuxedos, reaffirming Phil’s role as chief shadow caster year after year.
Like many successful businesses, Punxsutawney Phil’s brand has adapted over time and those subtle changes have led to new opportunities. When Hollywood made a movie starring Phil and his supporters, it catapulted his beloved Punxsutawney to unprecedented popularity; which is remarkable in itself considering the name is derived from a Native American term, which translates to “town of the sandflies” (or, “town of the mosquitoes.”) The media savvy Phil is even socially connected and will send you a text message on his special day.
All of these things have helped to keep Phil’s brand relevant and top of mind for generations.
So I leave you with this thought: This Saturday, when Groundhog Day arrives, write yourself a memo and use Phil’s annual appearance as an inspiration to build a better brand for your business. Be consistent. Be unique. Recruit brand ambassadors. Take advantage of opportunity. Stay true to your brand. And let’s hope for an early spring!
If you have any questions about improving the effectiveness of your brand image, I can be reached at (908) 219-4703.