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Selling Your Brand vs. Product

Just read this really interesting article on Wired.com about GoPro’s success. It makes a great point – GoPros didn’t become ubiquitous because they made the best video camera. Instead, they created a culture around a particular lifestyle. In essence, they didn’t just sell a product – they built a brand.

The GoPro Has become a Status Symbol

That’s something that so many companies miss out on. The belief that if you build a superior product, customers will just materialize, has been disproven countless times, with an inferior product often winning out because the public connected with it more. Building a powerful brand is invaluable. GoPro didn’t sell their camera based on the quality of the video. The phone in your pocket probably shoots as-good, if not better, footage as a GoPro. But because of their brand, having a GoPro strapped to your motorcycle, or kayak, or forehead even stands for something. It tells people your doing interesting things. You’re living life. And it’s such an interesting life that millions of people on YouTube will want to see what you did. The GoPro has become a status symbol.

The other smart thing they did was to not chase the broad consumer market. They understand who their audience is, and they stick with that. Defining a unique market segment is a basic foundation of any strong brand. They get that people aren’t going to shoot wedding videos with their cameras (well, not traditional wedding videos. First-person shot of the reverend from the groom’s view, anyone? I haven’t searched, but I bet that’s a video that exists). If they’d tried to create a device that worked for everyone, they would have become what every other major consumer video camera maker has in the past decade – a toy in a drawer somewhere that hasn’t been used since phones started shooting HD video.

People buy a product once, they buy a brand for life

The take-away here is that, if you want long-term customer loyalty, sell your brand, not your product. People buy a product once, they buy a brand for life.

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