Monday, February 15, 2021

Don't Let The Tail Wag The Dog - Or What Bobby Hundreds Could Teach Watch Town

Now what do I, your old pal Henki, and streetwear designer Bobby Hundreds (Bobby Kim) have in common? At first blush, precious little.  Bobby Hundreds is the design half of the The Hundreds, a wildly successful men's streetwear company born out of a passionate interest shared by two young law students. 

I finished reading Mr. Hundred's recounting of his life and experience building his brand, This is not a T-Shirt -

Courtesy of The Hundreds
There are a great many life and business lessons sprinkled throughout, but there were a few that really resonated with me. It is about branding, identity, and not letting the tail wag the dog. He retells the story of when The Gap changed their logo and the backlash that ensued via social media comments and discussion forums. Gap then seemingly gave in to the mob and asked for the detractors to contribute their own logo ideas & designs. To quote directly -

"I remember watching "Gapgate" unfold.  It bummed me out.  Gap shouldn't have ceded to vocal Facebook groups.  It should have remained in control of its brand, even if it had to fake it.  Gap should have dictated what Gap was..."

THIS IS NOT A T-SHIRT, pg. 274, Bobby Hundreds, copyright 2019 by Bobby Kim.

And this is a lesson that several micro (and a few macro) brands have learned the hard way. While there is a very real need for customer engagement and a sense of community, those are two parts of a brand, but they are not the brand itself. So for aspiring brands out there (or even established ones), your brand is just that - yours! Yes, you need followers, you need a community of "true believers", but ultimately, it is up to you to define, declare and defend just what your brand is, and what it stands for. Listen to your followers, seek their opinion and engage with them - but ultimately? The buck stops with you. 

Don't let the tail wag the dog.

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