Every Dog is a Branding Genius
Last week, I wrote about the inherent marketing ability my dog seems to have. He won me over at the shelter, and without humanizing my pet too much, it reminded me of some boardroom tactics I’ve seen when I’ve been pitched by ad or PR agencies. This week, I want to tell you about what a branding genius Winston the dog is.
When you think of a dog and branding, the obvious probably comes to mind. You may be getting an image of a dog lifting its leg and, well, you know where this is going, and yes, I am going to go there. Why? I’m not trying to shock you or gross you out, if that is what you are thinking, but dogs are branding experts. Admit it. They are. Have you ever broken it down, though, the aspects of a dogs, um, branding rituals? As they go about their daily walk, making their “mark” on everything standing still and smelly, have you ever thought about how this private pooch act and the art of branding have a lot in common? They aren’t just branding an object, they are choosing a brand, one that says something about them.
Thanks to Winston, I have. Here’s a few things I’ve learned from my Branding Wizz, er, I mean Whiz.
Dogs Understand Brand Preference
It never fails: Winston brands the first tree on the corner of the next block from our home. It’s an oak, big, strong, sturdy, just how Winston thinks of himself. He likes this tree, as well as the tree just to the right of the stairs that lead down to our walk along the river. Oddly, Winston favors things to his right. I don’t think that has anything to do with Branding, but is just another scary issue lurking in his dog brain. Is it that different from someone who favors items in a certain color, or a certain material, or the sleek look of Apple products? We pick out certain things that we are drawn to and we go there, continuously. Just like a dog with his favorite trees.
More So, Dogs Are Loyal to their Brands
It’s not just that Winston prefers certain trees over others, he is committed to those trees. I’ve tried to steer him to different places when a tree is occupied by another dog. After all, this is a “business trip,” for Winston, and time is money. He usually will have none of it. We will linger across the street at the other corner while he sniffs and comparison shops, but he’s in love with his brand preferences, and he wants what he wants. So we pass the time till the tree frees up then off we go, ready for Winston to spend some quality time marking his favorite brand. The moment that tree is free, I have to tug on his leash to get him to heel, because otherwise, he’s off an running, dragging me, ready to mark his favorite brand.
Dogs Appreciate a Certain Class of Brand
When we first got Winston, we had to shop around a lot to find just the right location for him to leave his mark. He was quite picky. He wanted a bit of privacy, in a pretty location, and he preferred shade as to out in the open. Hence, the tree on the corner. It’s on the corner of a two quiet streets, obscured from traffic slightly due to the curve of the road. It’s a shady area, and the tree is probably the prettiest on the block, certainly the biggest. Winston likes big brands, whether he’s associating with them or making his own brand. It’s probably due to his small dog syndrome. In fact, all his trees have similar traits in common: big, sturdy, shady, in quiet areas. If we were to translate this to human brands, I’d say that Winston would prefer Ralph Lauren clothes over say Juicy Couture. Juicy if flashy, showy, notice-me. Ralph is understated, well-made, low key quality. They are both well-known brands, but Ralph has been around longer, and though I’ve never seen a brand comparison, probably better known on a larger scale. You know, like an oak.
Despite Loyalty, Dogs Are Finicky and Will Shop Around.
After all, they are dogs. They are curious. They want to know things. They want choices. In just one month, he has abandoned one of his favorite locations, a young elm in the yard of the apartment complex next door, for a bush across the street that is hiding under a monster bear of a tree. The elm was shady, and somewhat quiet, but it was a popular spot, the favorite of other dogs, too. Winston likes to be different, he wants to lead the pack and be a trendsetter. If a spot becomes too popular, he moves on. Which leads me to . . .
Dogs understand that Prestige Matters
Low cost and easy has its merits, but choosy dogs want special. They want to feel that they are in an elite pack, I mean class. That’s why Winston will abandon one of his favorite brands if it is overly-marketed and overly-exposed.
Are we any different? I remember when my friends started buying 7 For All Mankind Jeans. They liked the way they fit, they liked the fact that the jeans costs so much because it told the other members of their pack, I mean social group, that they could afford expensive jeans. Then all the major department stores started selling them and now my friends have moved on to the next yet-to-be big thing that costs a lot, looks great and is a brand only known to a select few. Fortunately, that attitude about jeans does not extend into other brands that my pack, I mean my friends, frequent. They tend to be loyal to the brand of car they buy, well, except for those that once bought GM. They tend to go to the same stores over and over because they like the customer service and the selection. However, if a competing store throws a big sale and their favorite store is not throwing a similar sale, well, like a pack of wild wolves, off my friends go, sniffing out the discounts and deals.
I have a few girlfriends who have had bad experiences with men in the past; you know cheating men who will pick up any bitch in heat at the fire hydrant, I mean, first woman in the bar who comes on to them. As a result, my friends will say things like, “All men are dogs.” When it comes to selecting and staking claim to our favorite brands, aren’t we all a little like dogs, though? Winston thinks so.