• Elaine Tait

Branding in the future, and the future is now

When I was a child I was a big fan of The Jetsons. At that time I didn’t realize the futuristic world Hanna-Barbera had created was meant to take place in the year 2062, I just knew that the idea of flying cars felt very, very far away. While we still have a lot of work to do to make a world like The Jetsons reality, a few brands in the news this year are strong representations that the future (or at least the of future of branding) has arrived. Here are just two examples of brands delivering the future in a way that will reshape categories and the role of loyalty.

  1. Amazon and the Dash Button: This past week Amazon expanded the number of brands it provides through its ultra convenient product offering, Dash Button, to over 100+ brands. As if Prime’s 2-day shipping and Same-Day delivery don’t offer enough of a convenience for health & wellness, packaged foods, and beverage products, Amazon’s recent Dash Button expansion tripled the number of brands available through this offering. If you aren’t familiar with the Dash Button, here is a quick video that explains this offering, which is a fun, one-touch method of reordering top brands of household staples by simply placing your Dash Button on top of the products’ corresponding appliance or next to your current stock of that item in your pantry. Aside from the sheer simplicity of the button and the convenience it enables, the Dash Button is a big deal for brands. If you are one of the lucky brands in one of the “essential” categories chosen to be part of this expansion, then you have basically slashed your competition – if you haven’t removed it altogether – for every customer that purchases your brand’s Dash Button. And, if you aren’t one of the lucky brands, well then you better hope that your customers value your brand more than their time and energy. And while we all know that Amazon has never been the outlet for exploration-seeking customers looking to touch, feel and/or taste new products, the Dash Button – much like Club Retailers’ (Costco, Sam’s) business model of merchandising only the top performing brands – it should be very scary for new and/or average performing brands looking to become and/or remain relevant and top of mind in these Dash Button categories. Is it a gimmick? Is it here to stay? Will Amazon expand this offering to 1000+ Dash Button brands next time we hear from them? It is hard to say. But, if early reports are any indication (in the last 3 months Dash Button orders have grown by 75%) this could be very exciting for some brands and very scary for others.

  2. Tesla and the Model 3: On March 31, Elon Musk and Tesla revealed the Model 3, Tesla’s car for the masses. And, the customers, well, they arrived in droves with the last reported pre-order number at 253,000. That’s right, over a quarter of a million potential customers for a car that formally welcomed orders only a few days ago. Yes, these are just pre-orders / reserves with a refundable $1000 fee. Yes, there are many people who foresee manufacturing capacity and cost issues. Yes, the masses of Tesla skeptics have been out in droves as well. But, all of that aside, I am most in awe of what is possible in 2016 by having a strong brand. The Tesla brand, directed by a revolutionary leader and substantiated with a progressive product has done something truly unexpected, unparalleled — it has captured the attention of the world and, in the process, won over 253,000 potential future customers, most of whom have never seen, felt, or experienced the vehicle. Unveiled to a small in-person audience, most of the 253,000 potential customers were moved to pre-order this $30K+ product after watching a live stream from behind a screen. This exhibits trust in a brand, trust in the brand’s mission and product, and trust in the possibility that the brand brings to the modern world. It’s quite moving, if you ask me. And, all of this should serve as an inspiration, and warning, to the competition, as this feels like it is just the beginning of something big impacting all industries. While it may have sounded crazy to someone 20, even 10, years ago if you told them this Tesla story – this is the future and a showcase of the demand a brand can create when it establishes a deep connection to the world.

Now, we recognize that there are thousands of innovative brands delivering revolutionary services and products to the world. However, we are especially inspired by these two brands whose actions this week represent the future, a new future within their categories and beyond. We would love to hear from you. What brands do you think are doing business in a manner that makes you feel like the future is here?

Oh, and, if you are curious (like I was) as to how much of The Jetsons world had already come to fruition, Ad Age explored this very topic a few years ago. You can read about it here.