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During the holiday, I watched a Cary Grant movie I had never seen: “Room for One More.” It’s a good little film, but I mention it not for the plot but for the fact that a kid wore a pair of Converse Chuck Taylor All Star athletic shoes (called “Chucks” or, generically, “gym shoes” in my part of the world) in it. When I was in Paris in late 2010, I also saw Chucks on every other fashionable teen. All these sightings got me wondering about branding. I’ve owned a few pairs of these shoes throughout the years, and they are, frankly, among the most uncomfortable shoes in the world. Granted, they look pretty cool, but they’re only good for sitting around. Forget running in any semi-athletic endeavor, let alone on the basketball court (for which they were first designed), and their lack of support, nonexistent cushioning and canvas construction makes even short walks less than thrilling. Really, there are plenty of cool-looking shoes at more reasonable price points (Chucks will typically set you back $30–50).
So, what is it about shoes with less-than-stellar attributes that have been around for 50-plus years? It has to be branding, and that power is impressive. I’d like to hear your “power of branding” stories—either about your own brand or a brand you simply admire. E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or comment on the GCI Facebook page.
In the Form and Function sidebar of the December 2010 feature “Sustainable Innovation,” we should have credited the “Battery Operated” and “Roll On” content to Amy Marks-McGee of Trendincite LLC. GCI magazine regrets this error.
In the print version of this column, I wrote that Steve Herman's 99th column created quite a bit of feedback. It was actually number 98, his November contribution Two Views of Safety.