December 18, 2017

Comparing Your Brand to Halloween

Bill Barlow

Bill Barlow
Chairman and CEO/Canavation Product Group

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I thought I would do a quick study on how to build better brands by modeling them after Halloween. Using Halloween as the “model Brand”, how does your brand compare?

Halloween has already gone into the loyalty/advocacy stage. Advocacy means actively supporting, participating or recommending a course of action or activities.

Halloween has all three.

Key Elements of the Halloween Brand

Involve Children – Anyone who grows up in a brand has a soft place in their heart for the brand forever. Why else does McDonald's focus so much attention on Happy Meals and playgrounds? Kids love them and parents use them and they purchase when they do. When the children grow up, even if they have outgrown the food they want to bring their own kids there to relive their childhood salad (burger) days.

Halloween has done a terrific job by starting the holiday leveraging children. First they need a costume, and yes a different one every year, then they need a sack, an optional flashlight and they are off to the neighbors' houses.  The beauty of the next part of the brand involvement is that all of the neighbors need to buy candy and decorate their houses.

Cards – Whether you are participating in the Halloween brand in any other way people started sending each other cards to celebrate the brand. How great is a brand when people send each other cards to celebrate it? You may think this is somewhat of a stretch but when a neighbor throws a Tupperware party cards are one of the ways that people use to invite others. Cards are also the way that the host or hostess uses to thank people for attending.

If you can incorporate cards into your brand, especially if you supply the cards, you are clearly taking your brand to another level.

Costumes – If Halloween had a slogan it would most certainly be “Don’t be Yourself”. The pure essence of the brand is to become someone or something else for a while. Costumes and dressing up is the center of this concept. But before you discount how costumes can be part of your brand think about them millions or items of team and brand clothing that are sold every year. Even if you just offer brand team hats, you are entering this playing field. Brand merchandise is advertising but when it is proudly bought and worn by loyal brand fans it takes on an entirely new meaning. It means that your brand has entered the highest level of branding that is often defined as anything from customer loyalty to worship.

Decorating – While you are carving your pumpkin and placing those scary ghosts in your yard you should be thinking about how you are going to emulate this practice of decorating into your brand culture. Remember that decorations come in many forms. Be it magnetic signs for your car, wall posters of your mascot or celebrity spokespeople or interactive decorations like the Staples “That Was Easy) button to put on peoples desk. If your audience is loyal and the item is cool or has some interesting meaning, people will decorate for your brand.

Parties – By now you are likely on my wavelength. Halloween is notorious for parties. One interesting note here is while Halloween was in the early days a Halloween that was focused on children; most Halloween parties today are for adults. When a brand is this much fun why limit it to kids and candy?  The obvious brands that have embraced parties are Tupperware, Mary Kay and nearly every MLM in the world. But who else leverages parties as part of their branding?

Have you ever been to a wine tasting or a culinary demonstration? These are good examples. How about an organized (sponsored) tailgating event? A playoff event at a sports bar? If you use some imagination you can find numerous ways to incorporate parties into your brand.  What a great way to bond with your fans.

Trick or Treating – You were no doubt waiting for this one. My guess is that Halloween owns this one exclusively. If you can think of how to use Trick or Treating principles into your branding, I would like to hear from you.

We can learn a lot by studying the emotional connections to other brands… even something as irrational as the brand of Halloween.

Comments? You can contact me directly via my AdvisoryCloud profile.

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