Weird Branding Lessons from Portland

If I had to choose one word to describe Portland, it would be “Weird”.  Weird it is, but you can’t help falling in love with the authenticity you encounter.  There are a few things I picked up from the businesses I enjoyed while I was there.

Strong, Unflinching Identity

When you step foot into a business like VooDoo Doughnuts the experience smacks you in the face! (in a good way)  They may sugarcoat the doughnuts, but they certainly do not sugarcoat the brand.  With doughnut names like “Cock-N-Balls” and “Old Dirty Bastard” you know they aren’t softening their image to appeal to a wider audience.  The key thing to note is that there was a line wrapped around the building of people waiting for doughnuts.  People want that experience.

VooDoo Doughnuts

VooDoo Doughnuts

Massive Value for the Cost

One place that really stood out to me was Courier Coffee.  Here is a quick breakdown of the experience.

  • Each coffee is distinct with naturally occurring aromas like chocolate, spearmint or blueberry.
  • They use single-source, house-roasted beans. (some sourced direct from the farmers)
  • Each cup is made-to-order with a GOLD-PLATED filter! (I guess gold is the least reactive reusable filter material)
  • They give you your cup as well as what was leftover that didn’t fit in your cup.
  • The coffee is amazing.  It actually has a strong blueberry aroma like they said.
  • The coffee cost LESS than a squirt of the dark stuff at Starbucks.

Every single point of quality and detail was perfectly looked after.  The staff was friendly and knowledgeable and took the time to explain stuff and chat with us a bit.

They over-delivered on value and undercharged me.  I was left thinking, “This is a great business.

Portland and My Brand

I think these lessons should be applied to every brand out there.  Know what you believe in.  Know what your values are.  Follow them with conviction.  Personally, what values do I want to incorporate in the brand I’m creating with Scrunchie Leashes?

  1. Environmental Conscience – I hope to incorporate organic cotton with natural dyes.  I would also like to minimize carbon footprint in energy usage and transportation
  2. Care About Animals – I’m thinking the best way to do this would be to donate a % of profits to Humane Society or some other non-profit.  I rescued my dog at the Humane Society, so I’m inclined to go that route.
  3. Dependability – I want to make sure this product is made to last and provide the best experience for customers at a fraction of what they’d be willing to pay for it.  Over-deliver on promises.

We Are All Weird

Lastly, while I was in Powell’s City of Books, I found a book entitled We Are All Weird by Seth Godin.  I recognized Godin’s name as he is a popular online business and marketing guru.  This book is a manifesto that describes how old marketing created and marketed to the masses, but that is all changing.  Now, brands need to market the the weird.  It is a short read.  I recommend it.

We Are All Weird Book Cover

We Are All Weird Book Cover

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