“I blew out my flip flop, Stepped on a pop top; Cut my heel, had to cruise on back home.”
Those aren’t just some of the lyrics to Jimmy Buffett’s 1977 song Margaritaville. They contain the secret message to his stellar success in music and business.
Maybe it’s no surprise that such a powerful branding ethos should come from a Jimmy Buffett ditty. After all, Buffett is a masterful brander who mixed simple country tunes with an aspirational lifestyle to create a powerful and multifaceted brand. The New York Times says Buffet’s enterprises include an $800 million family resort and over $1.5 billion in annual sales.
But the key to building your brand is not just the catchiness of Buffett’s tune. It’s the message in his words.
Think about Indian Fakirs laying on a bed of nails. First, they lower themselves onto a surface constructed of thousands of razor sharp spikes. While their audiences gasp in amazement, the Fakirs lay on their ghastly divans in apparent comfort. And when they finally rise – they do so easily, appearing no worse for the experience.
But according to the song, a barefoot Buffett stepped on an errant soda top and had to head home to care for his injury.
I believe this advice inspired Buffett’s entire business and branding strategy.
Why? Because simply put, one point, even a dull pop top, is more powerful than thousands of perfectly sharpened points. In other words, despite all the different ways Buffett engages his audiences, his brand is singularly focused.
Whether you’re attending Buffett’s concerts, drinking his Landshark Beer or sipping his Margaritaville Rum, wearing his jewelry, listening to his online radio station, eating in his restaurants or staying in his resort, you’re always consuming the same message.
Kick off your shoes, enjoy the tropical breeze, and lighten up.
When you think about building your brand, think about the best brands you buy and the brands you love. Regardless of what business they’re in, they also have a singular way of telling you who they are, what they do, and why it should matter to you.
That’s the key to building your brand.
Disney is The Happiest Place on Earth.
Lexus offers The Relentless Pursuit of Perfection.
DeBeers taught us that A Diamond is Forever.
The US Army promised you could Be All That You Can Be.
Nike encouraged us to Just Do It.
And Vegas told us with a wink, What Happens Here Stays Here.
Now compare those singular messages with the complicated and overwrought way you probably describe your own company and your own services.
No matter how critically important all of your facts and figures are, if you need to list them every time you describe your competitive advantages you’re creating a bed of nails. And as we’ve already seen, while that might be a great way to create a comfortable place to lay down, it’s not a very good way to grow your brand.