Too Much of a Good Thing?

I think the idea of Pacific Shaving Company is exciting—the kind of company I would like to start if I had the concept…and the deep pockets. But I think they’re making a classic branding mistake.

Their latest campaign is, “Shaving is no way to give blood.” I like it. It’s different and compelling and no other shaving products I’m aware of use this safety approach to positioning. (Of course, electric shavers have been touting this benefit for decades, but I’ve not seen it used for conventional shaving products). They even have a tie-in with the American Red Cross to encourage donating blood.

But when you look at their website, the also have three-part tagline:

  • Good for the skin.

  • Good for the wallet.

  • Good for the earth.

Sounds like three different marketplace positions to me. Make that four with the "give blood" approach.

So…is it better for your skin than other shaving products? Is it more inexpensively priced? (I think not, considering that their sampler shave kit is $41 and I pay $1.29 for a can of Barbasol.) Is it really good for the earth? That would suggest an eco-friendly Burt’s Bees or Tom’s of Maine-type positioning. Any of these could have been welcomed in the marketplace. But all three? And how does the safety angle (give blood) fit in?

Is this a classic case of E squared = zero? (Emphasize everything and you emphasize nothing.) It's also too much of a good thing.

My guess is that their copywriter came up with what he thought was a cleverly written tagline. And when management saw it, they said, "Fantastic...this rolls our three most important selling points into one cool slogan!" But it's actually a great example of failing to create the "oversimplified message" that should communicate their unique selling proposition.

A fundamental rule of branding is, in order to cut through the clutter of the marketplace, focus on a single attribute. And make sure that attribute is something that your core market cares about (is relevant), is consistent with your values and your mission (is authentic), and is unlike competing products (is differentiated).

What's the word or concept Pacific Shaving is trying to own? "Eco-friendly" or "low-cost" or "good for your skin" or "safe"?

SIMPLIFY by focusing on a single attribute—a dominant selling idea—and then AMPLIFY by trumpeting it consistently through all your marketing and communications.

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