What Do You Want to Be Famous For

March 10th, 2015 Written by

Forgiving the grammatically incorrect title (“For what do you want to be famous,” just doesn’t carry the same caché); if you could only be known for one thing, what would it be? Despite a lifetime of contributions, many of the world’s most famous people are known for just one thing. Thomas Edison held nearly 2,000 US patents in his name (including an electric car battery, motion picure camera and the phonograph) and yet is universally known for inventing the light bulb.

Barry Bonds played 22 major league baseball seasons for the Pirates and Giants winning seven MVPs, received 14 All-Star selections and has hit more home runs in a season and in a career than anyone in the game’s history; and yet, he is famous for one thing – steroids. And, most recently, Brian Williams’ long career as a respected television journalist and 10-year stint as lead anchor of NBC’s Nightly News, will be known forever as the guy who wasn’t shot out of the sky in a military helicopter during the Iraq War.

Like famous people, brands are frequently known for one thing; and for Challenger Brands, this is a critical component to a brand’s success or failure. For companies who believe they can be famous for multiple offerings, we argue that, like in football, the team who claims to have three quarterbacks, has no quarterback. A brand that is famous for many things is less likely to be famous for anything.

Nathan’s might be more famous for their 4th of July Hot Dog Eating Contest than for their hot dogs themselves. Planters is better known for their Mr. Peanut character on their package than for the peanuts inside. And, we all know Kellogg’s Rice Krispies for the Snap, Crackle and Pop sound the cereal makes and not for the taste of the puffed rice.

Challenger Brands must identify that one thing that’s going to make them famous. In nearly every competitive industry, brands are battling for shelf-space, share-of-market and general awareness. The brand that stands out, for whatever reason, has the edge. Challenger Brands can be famous for many things beyond the quality of their featured product or service, including:

  • Characters, Mascots, Personalities (Geico Gecko, Mr. Whipple, The Most Interesting Man in the World)
  • Proprietary Colors (Coca-Cola red, UPS brown, Pepto-Bismol pink)
  • Package Shape (VW Beetle, Toblerone, Pringles)
  • Promotional Vehicles (Oscar Mayer Weinermobile, Goodyear Blimp, Red Cross Bloodmobile)
  • Secret Ingredients (KFC’s 11 Herbs & Spices, McDonald’s Secret Sauce, Chevron’s Techron)
  • Customer Service (Nordstrom, Zappos, Amazon)

It is important, however, that you control what you become famous for so it is actually relevant to your target and sets you apart from your competition in a way that will build your brand and grow your business. There are many ways a Challenger Brand can become famous. Give us a call if you need some help determining what that might be. So, what do you want to be famous for?

Until next time…

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