A key to the success of your brand, or any other brand, is to be first in the mind of the consumer. Do you ask for a facial tissue, or for a Kleenex? Do you ask for a soft drink, or for a Coke? Do you ask for an adhesive strip, or for a Band-Aid?
The 3rd Immutable Law of Marketing is the Law of the Mind, as defined in Al Ries and Jack Trout’s 1994 book, The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing. Briefly stated, it means that being first in the mind of the consumer is more important than being the first to the market with a product or service. The success of Johnson & Johnson’s Band-Aid brand adhesive bandages is a perfect example of a company owning the consumer’s mind. The Band-Aid brand name today is synonymous with a first aid product, but it is also identified with a method of providing solutions to problems. It has become a common term in everyday language, which solidifies that place of ownership in people’s minds.
How many times have you heard someone identify a temporary solution as needing a “Band-Aid” for fixing the problem? The benefit to Johnson & Johnson is that every time the name is mentioned, in whatever context, it reinforces the brand’s identity in the minds of consumers. The consumer may not know that Band-Aid is a Johnson & Johnson product, but they do know what a Band-Aid can do for a cut, scrape, or other minor injury. The consumer doesn’t ask for a Curad bandage, even though that might be what they wind up using to patch up a small injury. They ask for a Band-Aid.
Owning the consumer’s mind, however, does not excuse Johnson & Johnson from continuing to provide a quality product to customers. That sense of ownership comes right back to the company. Johnson & Johnson’s reputation, to a certain extent, is built on the credibility they’ve established with the Band-Aid brand, and other brands in their portfolio. Johnson & Johnson must constantly monitor quality and sustain the brand’s identity at an exceptional level to continue their ownership of the consumer’s mind.
The success of the adhesive bandage for Johnson & Johnson has enabled the company to diversify and offer other medical-related products to that consumer market. Gauze bandages and a host of other products have found a place because the Band-Aid brand is so strong.
While this may be a great success story, you’re probably wondering what this has to do with your business. Good question.
Your brand may never achieve the level of ownership Band-Aid has in the mind of the consumer, but it could. You may need professional advice, but if you can become the leader in your industry and own a specific category or niche, there is an excellent chance your product or service can become the preference of your customers and others. It takes market research, graphic development, and a number of other pieces to put it all together.