Brilliant Branding: Shinola, Not S**T

When someone tackles Branding this smartly, you simply have to applaud.

Shinola, a contemporary company less 5 years old, has taken an iconic American shoe polish brand from 1907, (and a dicey popular expression from the WWII era) and catapulted it into modern fame, fortune, and most importantly, Late Night comedy! Shinola, according to Adweek, is now one of  “The Coolest Brands in America.”  Their tale is simply one for the textbooks, with much to learn if you’re open to it (and gutsy enough).

First of all, founders knew exactly what they were doing (and buying) in the trademark. Mildly “dirty,” wildly recognized, being able to discern “shit from Shinola” was at the heart of this brand’s intended USP. Built-in expectation of superiority. Brilliant.

Next, consider the tone of the brand. Steeped in heritage and Americana, it is also at the same time, willing to have a little fun with itself and go for the joke. Have simply worked with wayyyy too many brands today who would be terrified to go for that angle. Too bad for them.  Brilliant for Shinola.

Sticky brand story? Born in America then, committed to America now. Everything from their Detroit HQ to their commitment to US component sourcing speaks with one transparent, sincere, money-where-your-brand-is voice. Somehow standing for something old fashioned, without feeling retro. Total contemporary feel. Brilliant.

I could go on and on about everything these folks did right (including product quality, which is at the cornerstone of everything. Usually.) And I know brilliance is often intuitive in the rear view mirror. But anyone trying to create and launch a brand should dig, really dig, into what Shinola founders have done. More lessons than most will be able to take in.

GWH W.T.F. (Winner, Toss-Up or Flop) Winner for Branding Extraordinaire.


Source: Adweek 6/22/15

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