May 26, 2010

Your Brand is a Verb – An Example

Andrea Naddaff is writing a series of tips targeted for small business owners for Business Week. The first tip titled, “Your Brand Is a Verb, Not a Noun” was published last week.

I was asked to write about my favorite brand that is most definitely a verb. And I selected Swatch – throw out your outdated memories of Swatch from the 80’s – the cheap plastic watch is alive – and doing well.

Swatch Watches

For my twelfth birthday I received a Swatch Watch as a gift. Since that day, Swatch is the only type of watch I have worn. For a brand to be worn by a 12 year old and a person roughly three times that age shows that Swatch has a living brand.

Now for some, Swatch brings up visions of the Duran Duran, dot matrix printers, and Silver Spoons (I still want a train in my house). Swatch survived the 80’s, outlived grunge, sailed through the millennium, and now is as strong as ever (trust me).

The concept behind Swatch is very simple – it is a cheap plastic watch. But, it is also a platform with endless possibilities that the brand has created and expertly cultivated. The variety of watches available suits every personal style, outfit, and age – and new watches are released regularly throughout the year. Right now there are more than 60 models available. Swatch has even moved beyond plastic into metal models that are more appropriate for the board room than a night club. Swatch has created a platform for change and adroitly updated the design to meet and push the contemporary zeitgeist. The price point of the watch is symbiotic with Swatch’s production of new models – with so many different designs it is affordable to own more than one. I own more than 30.

To stay current and capture diverse markets Swatch regularly partners with designers to create new designs. Annie Leibovitz, Keith Haring, and Yoko Ono have all created one. This year’s designs were created by two artists and two fashion designers. To prevent seeming too artsy (as if), Swatch also sponsors sporting events such as snowboarding, freestyle skiing, and beach volleyball. Every four years they release models to commemorate the Olympic Games.

Swatch injects new the technology into the watches. I own one that has a design that touts reuse and recycling and replenishes the battery with solar power (I got it in Barcelona). Other models can store information such as ski passes and electronic credits and be used to gain admission to mountains and access amusements at theme parks.

To ensure enthusiasts continue to interact with the brand, Swatch has created a membership Club. Each year members receive a special model only available to Club members.

All in all, Swatch sets a great example of what it means to create a brand that is a verb – they have changed over time while remaining true to their core – we know that this is a winning formula and they have done it extremely well.

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