There’s no Commoditizing in Branding!
“Are you commoditizing? There’s no commoditizing. There’s no commoditizing in branding!”
Those were Jimmy’s famous words to Evelyn in the hit 1992 branding film, “A League of Their Own.” Seriously, check it out.
Okay, that wasn’t really the line. I just needed a cheap joke.
Now, time to be serious! Ish.
What Is a Commodity?
For the purpose of this post, we’ll use the following Merriam-Webster definition of “commodity”: a mass-produced unspecialized product.
From there, and just for fun, I decided to look up how many brands of beer there are. According to didyouknow.org’s article Beer brands, types, styles and brewing, there are over 20,000 different brands of beer in the world. And that was written in 2010. It has to be north of that, by now.
And then, just for fun, I decided to look up how many brands of soda there are. According to Wikipedia’s List of brand name soft drinks products, there are, well, a lot. Feel free to count.
And then, just for fun, I decided to look up how many brands of shoes there are. Okay, I didn’t dig too deeply when I saw Shop 440+ Brands, from onlineshoes.com. By the way, a brand they don’t list is Nike, so we all know that 441+ brands of shoes exist.
All the brands in those categories are mass-produced unspecialized products. They’re all commodities. And yet, while we’ve never heard of most of them, a few are in our minds. I’m looking at you, Coca-Cola, Nike, and Budweiser!
So how did they become brands, rather than commodities?
Time and Focus
Take Nike. They started in 1964 with shoes, when they were called Blue Ribbon Sports – they weren’t Nike until 1971. And then they kept making shoes. And then they made more shoes. And even more shoes. And today, they’re number-one seller is still shoes, accounting for 62% of their revenue in 2014. As a sidenote, we’re not fans of line-extending any brand, but you can’t argue with the culture Nike’s built around theirs, which is a separate post altogether.
Shoes are a commodity. Nike’s a brand.
Ann Arbor’s Not Safe from Commoditization!
In our rockin’ town of Ann Arbor, MI, we come in contact with a lot of different businesses. They’re impatient and don’t want to focus. It’s all about the next shiny object. Web designers who’ve decided their whole industry’s a commodity. Print shops that want to be full service for all sectors. Cleaning companies that don’t act strategically. It’s enough to drive us even more nuts than we already are – and possibly take up a whole lot more caffeine!
If any of them would target a single type of person / industry, they’d be well on their way toward domination in their category, and possibly being the only local brand in their industry But they just keep treating their businesses like commodities. Because that’s what they actually believe they are.
Just for fun, I decided to look up how many people there are on Earth. According to worldometers.info, there are nearly 7.5 billion of us. Do you think of yourself as a commodity?
Well, you probably shouldn’t think of your business as one, either. And with a little time and focus, you never will again.
Stay gutsy, gang!