Master and Commander Brands

No one is born great but certain people have seized moments that have allowed for greatness to happen. Then you have certain brands that have done absolutely nothing except put out a great product coupled with a bit of good timing and even greater luck leading to that product or brand enjoying a marketing and consumer relationship nirvana that allows that brand or product to live in a Brand Valhalla.

There are brands that cross over or evolve into something much more than just merely brands. They go on to become part of the fabric of the skin their consumers wear and how they identify themselves. They’re deeper than badges; they’re tattoos of trust and finality where a consumer has bonded to the point of necessity, association and in some cases friendship. The brand is there in the good and bad times and memories are attributed to that brand or product as if it’s become “that song” where it was either your first time, your last time or God bless, your best time.

Once these brands have become part of the fabric however, the ones that continue to evolve go from being part of the outfit to THE outfit and once that happens you are truly master and commander.

Jack Daniels is a master and commander brand.

As a biker there are two things I absolutely need in my ethos and no, take your mind out the gutter. I’m not referring to those two things. I’m talking about my motorcycle of course and my Jack Daniels. Oxygen is not necessary for bikers ‘cause God knows if we could smell ourselves after we got off from a long run we wouldn’t want to breathe in anything at all but after that long run a mandatory shot of Jack is as necessary as the air we breathe. Hell, even if you don’t like Jack you drink Jack as a biker. The brand is what bikers drink. In fact, clubhouses that don’t stock the product or run out of it risk the immediate result of rioting or social media condemnation by biker nation if Jack is not available.

The product has commanded the necessity of their presence within the demographic of the biker set and because they are as integral as a Harley Davidson within the lifestyle, they have mastered a position of libation superiority that has transcended mere whiskey and become the liquid that quenches the spiritual biker soul. I know bikers that if you were to slice them you could legally sell their blood as alcohol enriched Jack Daniels whiskey.

Harley Davidson is another brand that has transcended and become a Master and Commander. There are bike clubs that won’t even allow for other bike brands to be ridden by members of the organization. Can you imagine a certain bar in your town not allowing you to come in unless you’re wearing True Religion jeans?

How the brand became a master and commander depends not just on the brand or product itself but I'd say more so on the journey it shared with the consumer. When a brand is accepted by a culture it is there to withstand the turbulence of times with that culture as well to celebrate the occasions that demand it. It in many cases becomes the family member that you can actually count on because it has always been there. Remember TV Guide? One of my friends has a hilarious story he tells from time to time about getting spanked with a TV Guide because he had hidden all his fathers belts so his father grabbed the next best thing...the TV Guide. It's a memory he has forever and when TV Guide changed from the pocketbook perfect bound to the saddle stitch my friend...and his backside...toasted farewell to a good friend. It had formed a truly lasting memory for him...and TV Guide was at its core.

For the marketer the job of continuing to market that Master & Commander brand is not as easy as it may appear because you have a violently passionate constituency that is as knowledgeable about the brand or product as the managers behind that brand. They can smell bullshit a mile away and no one likes to chase their fertilizer with marketing bullshit. Marketing these brands involves a much deeper understanding of the relationship that brand/product has with its consumer, the historical nature of that relationship and accepting to a degree where the consumer wants that relationship to go. For the marketer marketing the Master & Commander brand they must realize they are in servitude to the master and a rude wish sometimes is nothing but a polite command.

Having said that I sure could use a drink.