“Create your own visual style… let it be unique for yourself and yet identifiable for others”
As I mentioned previously on this blog, I work in a pub in Dublin, Ireland. Not any pub, but one of the busiest and most visited by tourists in the country. If you have ever been in the beautiful city of Dublin, you probably made a stop at “The Brazen Head” or at least heard of it. If you plan to visit Dublin, this is a must see!
The work experience there has taught me a lot about marketing and more specifically, how important POPs (Points of Purchase) are. Here is picture from one of the bars. Look at it closely (as the quality is not perfect, my apologies for this) and I will ask you a question about what you see.
Now that you have seen all the beer taps, ask yourselves which beers did you recognise? How many choices are there? Then ask yourself which tap stands out the most to you? Which is the one that grabs your attention first? A lot of you will probably answer Guinness, or some might go with Hop House 13 or Carlsberg. They do stand out. They are a bit different than the others, but did you recognised the one truly unique tap? The tap that is unique to the others. Probably not. Take a look at Heineken tap on the far right. Yes, that is a beer tap.
This is probably the most original and most beautiful beer tap that I have ever seen and I have seen a lot. It is so different and is nothing like the others at counter. It is almost as if it is like a piece of art and not a beer tap. Because of its uniqueness though, people do not see it, therefore sales are lost.
In POPs, marketers are always looking for that edge. The edge that will separate your product from the competition. Heineken did very well with that. Their tap is like nothing else on the same row of beer choices. However, this does not work very well for their sales. You would be surprised by how many people come to the counter, look at the taps and ask:
“Do you have Heineken here?”
They are standing right in front of the Heineken tap and do not see it. It stands out so much, but it does not look like a beer tap. This is where the problem is! It looks like a decorative part of the bar. No one ever suspects that this is actually a beer tap. They look at all the others. Some of them are slightly different as you can see. Some will stand out more than the others, but people will recognise that it is a beer tap. They will recognise what their purpose is. The Heineken beer tap though looks like part of the bar with a different purpose. Something that is part of the décor, not part of the beer choices.
Imagine a second-hand car dealership. In the parking lot, there are all kinds of different cars. There are BMWs, Volkswagens, Mercedes, Toyotas and one Scania tug. All the vehicles are sedans or station wagons and there is one commercial truck. If the prices are not flashing on the front windows of the cars, chances are people would think that the Scania is not for sale. That this is the dealership truck that loads the cars that are for sale. This will happen because the tug stands out too much. It is unique to what else is being sold there. It is still a vehicle, it is in a car dealership parking lot, but because of its uniqueness, it looks like it is out of place.
Here we encounter a huge paradox. In their book “The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing: Violate Them at Your Own Risk”, Al Ries and Jack Trout state that:
“History teaches that the only thing that works in marketing is a committed, single bold stroke that is least expected by the competition.”
This is so important in marketing, and marketers are always in the search of that “bold stroke”. Heineken did very well with that task. They were bold and created a point of purchase that is bold and unique. Although somehow it does not work well for them. They are losing from being bold.
Not only do the people who go to the counter to order beer not see that there is Heineken, but even the people who are looking for it cannot see it. Some ask the bartender if there is Heineken, but I am sure some do not. The only sales Heineken make here are from the people who ask the staff for it. There are also people who have seen this Heineken tap before and now know that it is actually Heineken and order it. Everyone else chooses another brand of the hoppy beverage.
This is our paradox. Heineken marketers did a textbook job with being unique and standing out. They just never realised that this tap could be too different. Or even that there is such thing as being too different in merchandising. So to that marketing law of being bold, I will add, be bold but also effective.
Most of you have probably seen the picture below. It has been circulating the web for a while now and it is popular because it makes so much sense.
(Credits to 9gag.com)
Being unique does not mean that you are useful. If there was a spork there it would have been a different story. The meme would have carried a different message. It is still unique and different from the other forks, but useful at the same time.
In conclusion, marketers should always be careful with their point of purchase being too different and unique to the rest. Marketers should make sure that their product stands out on the shelf, but still, be recognisable. Be bold and brave, but in a way that you fit in!