Brand loyalties come and go. But there are a few brands I’ve grown to love—not just because of their products, but because of their advertising and brand image, too. Here are four of them:
Why do I love a brand so obviously aimed at people who spend their days sitting starboard side, evaluating their hedge fund performance on a BlackBerry while bitching about the amount of ice in their mint julep?
Here’s why: Despite what their advertising is telling you, Polo isn’t actually selling to rich people—they’re selling to people who dream of being rich. When I was in high school, that was me.
While I still wouldn’t mind being rich, I’m a bit more realistic now. But I do like to look nice (sometimes). And what’s the easiest way for a non-rich person to look nice? Dress like a pseudo-rich person. In other words, wear Polo. It’s not Fendi or Armani, but it’s a brand that makes me feel a little more important than I actually am. And when you couple that with the fact that they’ve never deviated from their original brand image like so many other clothing companies, I’ve gotta respect them. Rational or not, it’s why I continue to wear Polo to this day.
Geico is a brand I went with purely based on their advertising campaign. Ironically, the car insurance company I was with before them—The General—has the worst advertising of all time. Believe it or not, this is a nationwide campaign. And as one who works in advertising, this didn’t sit well with me.
But we have to have a bit of perspective here, because not every brand has this luxury. Car insurance companies have very little to sell you on. Maybe price and service are a small factor, but when you shop around, you realize most of the big insurance companies are just about the same. So they can do whatever they want.
That’s just what Geico does. And I love it.
Nike has the best advertising in the world. Their slogan, “Just Do It,” is so good because it’s instant motivation that applies to any situation in just three words.
Debating whether or not to ask out the pretty girl who talked you into buying those toolin’ Ray Bans at Sunglass Hut? Just do it. Considering whether or not to spend your life savings on plane tickets and ecstasy so you can party for two weeks in Ibiza? Just do it. Thinking about robbing a bank and blasting your way out with an AR-15 a la Val Kilmer in Heat? You’ve got to draw the line somewhere.
But Nike’s brilliance in advertising goes far beyond their slogan. Their ads are simply the best in the business. They can be frenetic and inspiring. Contemplative. They make anyone feel like they can be great. And let’s not forget, they can be hilarious, too. I can watch Nike ads all day.
As the throwback entry on the list, Nintendo had me by the balls by about age four (sorry for being crass—I just can’t stop watching that last Nike commercial). And it was because of their absolutely awesome TV commercials that would air during my Saturday morning cartoons. They don’t do much television advertising anymore, but in the ‘80s and ‘90s, they had the best commercials on TV.
Why would I be talking about ads from 25 years ago? Because I am still obsessed with Nintendo. Yes, the awesomeness of the games has something to do with it (and the fact that my parents never let me have a Nintendo NES also elevated their mystique). But had it not been for those kick-ass ads from my cartoons, I probably wouldn’t care much about them now.
When you watch the ads today, they look quite dated and silly.
But back then, the excitement they inspired was palpable. And it shows the power of ads and brand image: By making great commercials 25 years ago, they got a customer for life. That’s the power of a great brand.