Walking through a park the other day I noticed a man strolling in front of me wearing a North Face jacket. I knew it was North Face because the company positions their logos on the backs of their jackets, directly over the wearer's right shoulder blade.
How strange. Why would North Face put their logo on the back of a jacket instead of over the left breast pocket like every other company?
Later that same day I was standing in line waiting to purchase tickets for a museum when I noticed another North Face logo staring back at me from the person ahead of me in line. And then the next day I noticed a few more North Face logos on people in front of me in different queues at the airport, the ticket counter, and the immigration line.
That's when it hit me.
North Face originally made jackets for skiers. And what do skiers do when they're not skiing (or drinking hot chocolate?) They wait in line.
Skiers wait in lines at lift ticket booths, they wait in gondola lines and they wait in T-bar lines. They also wait in lines for drinks at après ski taverns and bars.
Skiers wait in lines. And if you sell your products to skiers and you want your logo to be seen by other skiers, it makes perfect sense for you to position your logo where other skiers will see it. And that's on the backs of the jackets you sell to people whom you already know are going to be waiting in line.
Today people wear their North Face jackets to lots of places besides the slopes. They wear North Face jackets to the grocery store or the movies or to the bank or to concerts. What do those locations have in common? They're all places where people wait in lines.
People also wear their North Face jacket when they travel. And between ticket counters, TSA lines, and customs and immigration and jetways, there's a whole lot of waiting going on. Not to mention courtesy shuttles, hotel check-in lines, and all the other places where we're required to wait our turn to travel.
So it's no surprise that North Face puts their logo on the back of their jackets. Instead, the big surprise is why other companies don't do the same thing.
Before you scoff at those other companies' short-sightedness, think about the promotional tee-shirts and polo shirts you had made for your company. Did it ever dawn on you to have your company's logo emblazoned on the back of your shirts? And before you think I'm making fun of you, honesty propels me to admit that I'm guilty as charged because I remember my company printed lots of shirts and we never produced them with logos positioned to promote our brand to people waiting in lines.
There are none so blind as he who will not see. North Face has shown us the way and not one of us have appropriated their brilliant suggestion.
Of course, North Face isn't the only company that has shown us their secret.
The lessons are all around us — all we have to do is pay attention.
Next time a new model Rolls Royce glides past, notice that the RR monogram at the center of the wheels always remains upright no matter how fast the car is going. Needless to say, the driver has never seen this because they're inside the car. The logo has been put there for you. And to tell the world that the driver is piloting a Rolls Royce.
Next time you walk into a Starbucks, look at all the Apple laptops the busy patrons are pecking away at. You'll notice that the Apple logo is both facing up and gloriously illuminated. It's also facing away from the computer user — it's there for you. To tell the world that the user is using an Apple.
Next time you fly into Miami, look out the window as the plane flies over the warehouse district west of the airport. You'll notice that Goya and Sazón have painted their names in giant letters on the roofs of their warehouses. Obliviously the people working in the buildings can't see the enormous signs. They're there for you.
Ray-Ban screens their logo on the outsides of the lenses of their iconic Wayfarer glasses. Imagine how annoyed the wearers of Ray-Ban's products would be if there were a backwards logo blocking their line of sight. But the wearers can't see it. The logo is there for you.
Creating an All About Them brand doesn't just require you to think about your customer, client or consumer and figure out what they would like from your products or services. It also demands that you look at your customers' lifestyle and understand how they're going to be using what you sell and how you can make those items more effective.
The added bonus for your business is to figure out how you can use your customers' interactions with your products to not only offer them a powerfully personal experience but to build your own brand value.