Substance Over Everything

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There’s a coffee shop in Orange County called “Bad Coffee“. The owner is an alum of another well known shop in OC called Portola. Bad Coffee is anything but, in fact, it’s probably the best coffee shop in Orange County. The first thing anyone is going to notice about the spot is the name. It’s very in your face and up front about the potential of the product you’re about to consume. So why did they call it Bad Coffee? Because they can back up the fact that they’re great and everyone behind the count knows what they’re doing. Their brand is all about substance, the name tries to subvert that but they rise above constantly. When your product is so good you can call yourself “bad”.

This goes towards a more disciplined approach in marketing today. Gone are the days of extolling virtues of a product that doesn’t hold up or contains little merit. With the rise in review sites popping up, huge brands like Nike asking for reviews on their site, and the internet connecting everyone all the time, it’s hard for a brand to lack real substance. Consumers today can tell anyone and everyone how valuable your brand is within a few minutes, it’s best to make sure what you’re marketing has substance.

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I’d advocate that marketers need to push back on products without substance. If we’re going to build brands then we need to make sure what we’re building has a solid foundation. A product like Stance socks can’t continue to exist without major substance. Just like, Nike, adidas, and, to a much, much lesser degree, Under Armour, Stance is becoming a staple in the NBA. Most notable players past and present have their own sock line and you’re seeing Stance become the default sock of the NBA Finals. What’s their secret? Substance. Outside of solid design, good marketing, and endorsements, they provide a solid product that matches the price point. If you’re paying $10 for a single pair of socks you better get your money’s worth and Stance has made sure they deliver. The NBA doesn’t build itself on brands that fall apart, look at Nike’s stock price to prove that, so putting Stance on the court lends itself to their substance.

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At the end of the day all that matters is what someone else is going to say about your brand and if they’ll back it with their money. People vote with their dollars and every vote is advocacy of the substance backing your brand. Be so good you can call yourself Bad Coffee.

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