Friday, January 08, 2010

Your brand needs to be simple, or, How Dyson sucked me in

How does something get our attention? It pops. It wows. It has that ooooh, cooooooool factor to it.

Take vacuums. Vacuums didn't change much through the 20th century. Kirby and Hoover all worked pretty much the same. Then along came some new kid.

In case you've been living under a rock for the past few years, the Dyson is a revolutionary new vacuum. It's completely shifted the paradigm for how a vacuum is supposed to work, basically turning the technology inside out. It's energy efficient. It's effective. And unlike the preexisting technology, it doesn't weaken over time. It costs quite a bit more than the average bag-based cleaner, but it's supposed to make up for that difference (and a lot more) because of the electricity it'll save over the life of the unit. It's mechanically simple, doesn't require a lot of cleaning and maintenance, and even if it does, is manufactured by a company with a good reputation for service and support.

How do I know all this? Because of their advertising campaign. That's what sucked me in, if you'll pardon the expression. I fell for it, hook, line, and sinker. And there's no reason I shouldn't have. I'm not here to sell the Dyson. I'm here to sell the way the Dyson sells.

This commercial isn't like other commercials, but the vacuum quickly became the highest-grossing line in the US market. Why?

  • Simple. The commercial doesn't have a lot of graphics, great music, special effects, high-technology. It's just one guy letting you know that he made a vacuum. Wow. You don't need to make a big deal out of a big deal. It can do that all on its own.

  • Average guy. Never mind that Sir James Dyson's estimated net worth is £1.1B. You can't tell that by watching the commercials. You can't tell if Dyson is a huge manufacturing organization with 5000 employees in a sweatshop in southeast Asia, or if it's just that one guy in his garage. He reaches you personally and tells you his short story. You relate to his frustration. You feel it. You want to benefit from his solution.

  • Check out Carmine Gallo's The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs for a great look at someone else who's known for the same style.

  • The product is green. Say what you will, but green is in. People are finally starting to realize that conservation isn't a costly gimmick, but a means to resource optimization, waste reduction, and cost-cutting. Some people go with the flow. Some people go against the flow. Dyson decided to go with the cultural flow while he was going against the technological flow. Genius!

  • You win. I'm not a cynic; everyone else is! People have a "what's in it for me" mentality. The Dyson will save you money. It doesn't lose suction over time. There are no bags. And, the aforementioned greenness mean that you won't use nearly as much electricity over the life of the unit.

The Dyson commercial campaign reminds me a little of that Honda commercial from a few years ago. Remember that one that has a single line at the end spoken by someone who sounds a bit like Garrison Keillor? "Isn't it nice when things"

The beauty of that commercial is that it has precisely zero special effects. None. Zip. Don't take my word for it. Go watch it again. And it was done in a single take. One. No edits. No special effects. No animation. Just a camera and a great idea and one little push on a gear at the beginning. Yeah, it took them seven months and over 600 takes, but when they finally got it right (the genius of patience and design) they made a point: Honda does all the hard work for you so you get simple elegance and precision machinery.

Keep it simple.


How do you need to change the way you're branding yourself?