Who were Jamaica’s greatest run-away brand identity thieves? As nobody can identify a single mind that transcended the moniker, we’ll pick out a number of brands for discussion.
Usain Bolt found fame not simply because of his blazing speed, but also because of his garish, outlandish fashion sense.
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Wyndham Worldwide took a similar approach. Tim Mahoney, chief marketing officer at the hospitality conglomerate, calls itself an icon. Of the 1,500 brands in the Wyndham portfolio, 90% fit the visual profile. And 30% of them would never be sold again should there be a one-brand business model.
Thus the essence of the brand: “Cheap.” Yet world-famous hotels like the St Regis, InterContinental and Wyndham Grand operate in a global space where that is increasingly difficult. “Most people know we’re cheap,” says Mahoney. “But they still have to manage their expectations about that.”
When upstart Highgate Hotel was introduced to the market in 2002, it was crucial that the owner build the impression that it was cheap. The workers even did an event in a Winston Churchill jacket, thus defining the product’s cool urban feel. Highgate gained instant recognition. The hotel gained more than 4 million guests.
The “Old-Time Insurance Crew,” understood the need to steal cachet. Its bland TV commercials emphasized the “saintly” imagery of wearing a Stetson hat and doing bobsledding in the moonlight. A possible knock-off of one of the heist-loving characters from the TV show Baywatch, the crew would move a business from a competitor every six months. When the OTL brand became synonymous with low-end insurance, customer loyalty waned.
Mattel’s Hot Wheels version of cars might have been the first in terms of filling the sales void created by a brand shutting down. “The product was out-of-date in line with the animated representation of the urban street,” explains Hot Wheels president Jim Benintende. “This strategy was effective and enabled us to bolster the brand image in a very short time period.”
Benintende adds that 86% of people have seen the videos, which are frequently referenced in their inboxes.
Myalgic Encephalomyelitis sufferer, Andrea Bowden, wrote a memoir called Worst Drug, which was loosely based on her time in a facility where drug-addicted patients were confined. The movie adaptation of her memoir is due out in 2018. “One week I was the master of my brand, the next week I was in the Third Ward, a tiny meadow surrounded by rampaging snakes,” she wrote in her book.