Zooey and Me – A Branding Analogy

Apr 10th 2019: As it’s National Farm Animals Day and in 1866, the ASPCA was founded – I wanted to repost this article. It’s bitter sweet, as my Zooey got sick towards the end of last year and I had to put him down – but have no fear, my new fur baby, Oscar, is a joy and almost 8 months now!!! šŸ™‚

As I sat down tonight to write my daily Marketing Insights blog post, I realized two things – 1) I really need to set an editorial schedule and 2) how much I am enjoying blogging and being able to share my thoughts with fellow marketing professionals and others every day.

I was thinking about branding today – how to build your brand, how to cultivate it and the complexity of our relationship with our brands. In today’s world, we see that celebrities, athletes, even YouTube “stars” have their own personal brands and of course, the large and small corporate brands.

Let’s start with a simple definition. A Brand is “a name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers.” The key idea here is how it seperates and makes you stand out from your competition. It’s the uniqueness that your ideas and products and services offer the consumer.

This got me thinking about analogies for how one successfully brands their company and inherently themselves. The one thing that came to me was the relationship a pet owner has with their pet. As you know from my post “The Heart of Marketing”, I am a huge supporter of animal rescue causes and a cat owner. Hence the familiar sounding title of this piece, Zooey and Me.  I was struck with the notion that Zooey is like our customers or consumers and you and I are like the company trying to sell that consumer on a product/service.

As a pet owner, much like a service provider or store, you are going to the one store that has the one brand of cat food they will eat, buying toys and catnip and giving them what they want to make them happy. This is similar to a business who uses marketing campaigns, sales, special offers and promotions to attract and retain customers. Like going to that one store for the one brand of cat food, you are striving to find what makes your brand unique and appealing among all the other potential options consumers have available.

As any cat owner knows, you are not always going to make your pet happy. I can tell you that if get home 1 minute later than expected, I am greeted with a chorus of meows that tell me I am late. After I feed her and spend some time playing with and petting her, all is forgiven. Again I couldn’t help but think this is like a bad customer service experience affecting our brand image. If someone wasn’t happy with the service provided or a product was defective or any of the potential issues that can arise, we strive to rectify the issue and keep our branding and reputation in good standing. Our brand, much like how we treat our pets, is our bond. It’s a promise that the customer will get the best possible service and product. When something goes wrong, it’s imperative that the matter gets resolved in a quick and efficient manner that makes the customer or pet in my analogy feel like they have been treated fairly -AND WE HAVE KEPT THE PROMISE INHERENT IN OUR BRANDING.

Finally, our pets mean the world to us. They make our lives better and more fulfilled, as well as bring joy to us in so many ways. Our customers are the reason our brand and our services are recognized. They are the cogs that make our businesses run and thrive. The way we treat our pets, just like the way we treat our customers, creates a positive image and feeling around our brand. It created the uniqueness that is needed to stand out among all the other cat owners – and makes us the cat’s meow, when it come to choosing what service or product to buy.

Let us know your thoughts on this post and as always, your comments are welcome and encouraged!!!!


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