Animatedly describing one of the best meals she’d had in years, a woman at a sidewalk café in Benidorm recently told a friend that what impressed her most about a restaurant she’d visited in Scotland was the presentation of the chips. “They came in a cute little galvanised iron bucket, and were all stood up, friendly-like, as if they were begging to be eaten”.
People at neighbouring tables chimed in with “lovely” and “amazing” and several demanded to know the name of the restaurant and where it was located. She was more than happy to oblige.
What this conversation proved was that a simple idea – in this case the presentation in an offbeat, amusing manner of something as humdrum as a portion of French fries – had the power to set tongues wagging, and gave the eatery a “wow” factor of such magnitude that people were even talking about it abroad.
That small but innovative touch clearly served to give the restaurant outstanding character – and underscores a basic business principle: people will sit up and take notice if one makes the effort to engage their interest in the image you project, and the manner in which you choose to promote your business. When the chips are down, it’s that unique trading identity that will put you ahead of the game.
But seizing public attention is no mean feat. It’s a challenge that’s faced by all start-up enterprises and entrepreneurs. Even if you’ve invented the world’s best mousetrap, consumers will not beat a path to your door unless you shout the message from the rooftops.
What most new companies offer are variations of existing products and services, and yours will be one of hundreds, if not thousands that are similar, so standing out from your competitors – many of whom are well-established – is not going to be easy.
The answer lies in clever branding – a concept that stretches back decades. Done well, it can even imbed a product’s identity so deeply in consumers’ consciousness that becomes part of their vocabulary.
When William Henry “Boss” Hoover bought the patent for the world’s first motorised suction sweeper from its inventor – an Ohio department store janitor, James Murray Spangler in 1908 – he was confident that the machine would take the public by storm.
He was wrong. The machine wasn’t cheap at $60.000 and it sure as heck wasn’t pretty – and most people couldn’t see the point of it – until Hoover placed an ad in The Saturday Evening Post offering customers ten days free use of his cleaner to anyone wanting to test it. Using a network of local businesses to implement the offer, Hoover developed a national network of retailers – and, four years on, demand for Hoovers had spread to Norway, France, Russia, Belgium, Holland and Scotland.
Even though he had no real competition until the 1920s, Hoover not only kept adding bells and whistles to the original design, he also kept his brand name firmly in the public’s eye, and in 1919 the company’s ad agency gave the world a slogan that would endure for decades: “It Beats … as it Sweeps … as it Cleans”. This referred to the action of the revolving brushes, which vibrated the carpet and helped loosen the trodden-in grime. The few other machines on the market used suction alone to remove dirt, and weren’t not as efficient.
A combination of continuous innovation and clever marketing kept the company at the forefront of vacuum cleaning. In 1932, for example, Hoover unveiled a model with a headlamp, which, in reality, was about as much use as an ashtray on a motorcycle – unless you’re in the habit of cleaning your carpets in pitch dark. The Hoover Hedlite was heralded with such attention-grabbing the slogans as “It shows you the dirt you never knew you had!” and “It lights where it's going … and it's clean where it's gone!”. Brilliant!
Hoover passionately believed he was onto a winner with his suction cleaner, and was he soon proved right. What he could not possibly have imagined, however, is that, more than a century on, people would routinely describe the act of using an electric suction cleaner as “Hoovering” – even though their machine may well be a different brand. Hoover’s success lay in the fact that he had had the good sense to harness the top communications experts of the day to creating attention-grabbing sales and marketing techniques for his product. That approach is as important today as it was almost a century ago.
And this is where we come in. Peppermint Media can’t guarantee to imbed your enterprise into the world’s consciousness in the same way as Hoover succeeded with his vacuum cleaner. But we can assure you that your branding and marketing needs will be professionally dealt with by experts who have an excellent track record in branding and imaging.