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What Trick-or-Treating Can Teach Us about Branding

October 31st, 2009

Last night, my son asked me if I trick-or-treated as a kid. After my obvious response, it got me thinking about how much fun it was to go door-to-door in costume with my friends and family, and get all types of good candy and treats.

Like a unique brand, there were always a handful of houses that did not disappoint; you would never miss visiting them each year because they gave out the best stuff – regular size Reese’s, Hershey’s, Snickers, etc. (not the microscopic “fun size” that are given out today). Based on the buzz in the neighborhood, you knew which houses were worth the trip. We all compared notes on who gave out the best stuff (as well as those that did not).

Halloween was always a fun experience, and those houses that went the extra effort year after year earned our trust, and were considered the best. They were branded (whether they knew it or not).

What are the characteristics of a unique brand?

Beyond a visually interesting logo or catchy jingle, I believe the essence of a brand is more about consistently delivering on an experience or expectation.  You buy Apple products because they are innovative and extremely easy to use. You drive a Volvo because of the company’s relentless passion for safety.  The Nike swoosh is symbolic with sports, athletics and performance.  These attributes are part of a company’s DNA. It’s not necessarily what these products do for you physically; it’s more about how they connect with you emotionally.

It is debatable whether or not those houses in my old neighborhood actually intended to be known to offer the best candy. The lesson learned here is that people do pay attention, even at an early age.  So make sure you do everything to ensure a positive experience. Otherwise, opportunity will pass by your doorstep, and the prospect of that can be very frightening.

Happy Halloween!

Domenick Cilea

Domenick founded Springboard in 1995. When he is not working on marketing, PR, branding or content strategy, Domenick can be found in a gym, on the road or pool training to survive his next triathlon.

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