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Be cheap or be interesting: how brands succeed


Be cheap or be interesting: how brands succeed


If your brand isn’t following the most rigorous low-cost strategy, you had better differentiate it, writes Pip Stocks.

For many years now we have said that the middle market is dead.

This conversation started in retail; think Kmart vs Target. Kmart is the cheapest – what is Target if it’s not the cheapest? Think Aldi vs Woolworths. Aldi will win on price – what is Woolworths if it’s not the cheapest? Dan Murphy’s price check every day to make sure they are the cheapest. So what is Liquorland?

Brands can’t sit in the middle. The middle means nothing.

When your customers can find alternatives at a drop of a hat and research their best options (remember that small thing called the digital transformation), then being in the middle won’t cut it. You offer no benefit to your customer by being in the middle.

I believe that you need to be cheap or be interesting.

Brands like Target, Woolworths and Liquorland need to build their brand stories. If they are not going to be cheap then they must be interesting.

Great storytelling starts with anchoring your brand it its heritage. Psychological research tells us about the importance of storytelling when connecting with your consumers and building those emotional codes with your consumers is key to being interesting.

Twillory, a men’s shirt company in the US, delivers its shirts with a return envelope so you pop your old shirts back into that bag for them to launder and hand over to Careergear, a charity that helps out-of-work people get dressed for interviews. They are an old brand that believes in quality and social responsibility and demonstrate this through their customer experience. They are really interesting.

Patagonia, the upmarket outdoor clothing company preaches the value of the simple life, and takes a stand against conspicuous consumption by urging us to consume less. Far beyond a genius marketing ploy, the company walks the walk by offering a repair service for its clothing and by providing a platform for its customers to re-sell their Patagonia goods on Patagonia.com or eBay. In a world that screams at us to consume more, Patagonia’s stance is a breath of fresh air. That’s interesting.

We think brands should be interesting and have a point of view. I would love to know what Target, Liquorland or Woolworths would find if they searched through their archives and history and what bits of interesting they would discover.


Pip Stocks is the founder and CEO of BrandHook.


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