When we are little, we look at the world around us and everything seems enormous. Scarily big and scarily new – but its exciting. We’re looking and learning from everything we see, touch and do.
Tom Hanks, in the film Big, used this ability to look though a child’s eyes to create brilliant kids toys. He had the beautifully clean ideas and the sense of fun/wonder of a child and the experience and ability of an adult.
But late on in the film he realises he has lost it. He has accidentally become an adult and wrongly assumes that what an adult will like, a child will like, and perhaps more importantly – can afford.
It’s similar to starting a business. We look through excited young eyes, doing almost anything for anyone to pay the bills and make ends meet whilst learning our craft. If we’re lucky, the business grows up and we stay with it for the ride. But like the blogpost I wrote yesterday about stopping to think, I really believe that any business or brand owner needs to keep referring back to where it came from, to see if that is still directing its future.
One of my favourite brands in the world is Howies. They make beautiful quality clothes with a quirk and have always been aimed at the surf/skate market. Now I’m no skater or surfer but for me this is aspirational stuff and Howies makes me feel cool.
But I wonder whether they need to do a bit of Tom Hanks themselves and look at their business through their young eyes again.
They have launched a range of bags and coats under the name of ‘Hand Me Down’. The name is given because they are in theory so good, you will be able to hand them down to future generations. But £400 for a Howies coat and £185 for a Howies laptop bag is pretty rich stuff by anyone’s standards, but a huge and possibly fatal price hike by Howies.
I don’t put this down to their part ownership by Timberland, but more to do with them losing sight of their core audience.
You can buy a hugely aspirational Freitag bag made up from banners that were used at the Tate Gallery for £75 – how cool is that?
Or if you really want to push the boat out, stretch to a fully hand made leather work of art from Hard Graft that comes in the form of the ‘2UNFOLD multi-use leather laptop bag’ at £300 or so.
We all need to keep our childish eyes focussed on our business or we are in danger of killing it, before it ever even reaches adulthood.
So please Howies. Remember us. The little people who have loved and lived your brand for years and years. Give us reasons to fall in love over and over again, not reasons to flirt with others.