Don't Label Me, Bro
Before we get started, perennial wisdom from the greatest cartoonist to ever live, Bill Watterson: "Endorsing products is the American way to express individuality."
I grew up reading Calvin & Hobbes every weekday, and a decade-and-a-half after the last strip went to print, I'm still finding relevant things in it.
To wit: while we were taking a day trip to New York this week, my girlfriend bought an expensive pair of shoes. Every husband and wife, or boyfriend and girlfriend, must recognize what comes next. It's a familiar scenario: One person makes a purchase the other feels is extravagant, an argument ensues, and I lose.
We didn't argue, but we did discuss why she thought the shoes were worth the money. The most important reasons were the style and look of the shoes; how well they were made; and the label. She loves the company, and the shoes were from a very limited edition run, so much so that she may have purchased the last pair in existence. To her, there was no question.
I'm a guy. To me, they look like shoes.
While to my eyes they may just look like shoes with a big price tag, to her they have value well beyond the cost. It doesn't make sense to me, but then it may not make sense to her why I think it's worth it to buy Bose speakers or spend over $400 for a bottle of scotch. I could explain the depth of bass in the speakers, or the flavor and rarity of the whisky, but honestly? I place value in those names. It's not to say those labels aren't of high quality, because both Bose and Oban are top-of-the-line in their respective fields. But the value goes beyond what's tangible.
There are thousands of bottles of scotch in the world, many of them probably better than that one, but they don't say "Oban" on the label. And there are thousands of pairs of shoes in the world, but they don't all say "Theyskens' Theory" on the label. And I can understand that.
A mistake people often make is assuming this kind of loyalty and valuation only applies to big-ticket items. As I write this, I'm wearing a T-shirt for a bar I love under my buttondown, and at home I still have the first concert tee I ever purchased. The band has since broken up and the shirt is full of holes, but what the logo on the shirt represents means more than the cost or even the product itself. Just like the broken coffee cup sitting on my desk that I received at my last job, adding a label to something can create value that extends the life of a product beyond the product's usefulness.
When you're working on your next promotion, don't just think about how a product can keep your client's logo around longer. Think about how the label can add value to the item.
And Vanessa: your shoes are very nice.