What Silly Bandz can teach us about brand

by Tony Fannin, President, BE Branded

I have three children. Two of them love Silly Bandz. If you haven’t heard about them, they are uniquely shaped, colorful rubber bands that kids love to wear around their wrists. They have been the currency of choice across America’s playgrounds and neighborhood gatherings for the last seven or eight months. Many see this as a fad, a one-hit-wonder, knowing kids and how their tastes and focus changes minute by minute, or so it seems. Remember Pogs and Slap Wraps? They were the mega-craze in their day as well, but soon faded within 12-18 months.

I recently read an interview with Mr. Croak, the owner of BCP Imports LLC, who makes Silly Bandz. He is very aware of the history of products like his have. They don’t last too long. It’s like a shooting star, one minute you light up the market place, the next minute, you’re out of business. He said that many companies in his industry rely on the one-hit product and build a company around that, but when the toy falls out of favor in about a year, the company usually either goes out of business or just limps along with minor sales and become just a shadow of what they used to be. The key statement he made was this: “A smart business plan is to take a product and develop it into a brand.”

To Mr. Croak, this means turning “Silly” into a brand that’s beyond just the bands. He is already in development to create a brand instead of just a hit-toy. Silly Necklaces and Silly Buttons are in the works. The goal is to be known for silly, fun things. For a child, 6-months is an eternity. Their world changes constantly and a company must stay relevant or risk disappearing from the playgrounds. As Mr. Croak wisely pointed out, you need to create a brand to last the long haul.

For example, in the late 80’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were the rage. They started out as just a comic book. Mirage Studios Inc. was smart enough to turn the characters into an impressive brand that has managed to ink enough deals to turn its half-shelled heroes into action figures, television stars, and characters on towels and bedspreads. The Turtles even experienced a relatively recent comeback following the “TMNT” movie three years ago.

The key is to turn the “stuff” into something transformative. It must become an emotional promise, regardless of the form it takes (toys, movies, DVDs, etc.) This is the essence of brand. Hello Kitty has been able to turn a Japanese anime character into a powerful brand that has crossed over into high-end adult jewelry. This brand is not just for kids anymore.

Ultimately, if you  want staying power, you’ve got to move beyond the stuff you sell or service your provide, no matter how successful you are at the moment with that particular stuff. We all have seen many things that were once the king of the world only to be a footnote in a “remember this” decade review. Great brands have staying power beyond the successful hit or the low price point.



About Be Branded

Tony Fannin is of President of BE Branded, an integrated marketing firm who helps clients BE Somebody to their customers. If you aren't somebody, then you are commodity.

5 Responses to “What Silly Bandz can teach us about brand”

  1. Interesting post. My Marketing professor at Indiana mentioned Silly Bandz in class this summer as an example of a product with a potentially very short life. I never thought about turning the idea of “silly” products into an entire brand beyond just the wrist bands. I wonder how successful he will be with the idea.

    • Thank you for your thoughts. I agree with your professor that Silly Bandz has a very short life span. I also will be very curious to see if Mr. Croak can successfully turn his company into a brand of Silly and fun. I guess we’ll all watch together and see. Thank you for your input.

  2. Thank you for your post.I have never know befor about this silly bandz story.Thank again.

  3. I like your article. Working on a school project about silly bandz / funny bandz: http://funnybandz.biz/.

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