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From "my product" to "my client"

I have the pleasure of doing a lot of business in Mexico and always enjoy observing how sales and marketing brands are developed. Kimberly-Clark has always had a large operation in Mexico. But in the past few years, their self-concept has changed. They used to think of themselves as a paper company. They produced great products made of paper.

Gradually, they began to realize that their real power was marketing and branding rather than production. I became aware of the power of their brand when I started to travel on business in Mexico in 1990, setting up a subsidiary for a division of Colgate Palmolive. (See my book Guerrilla Business Secrets for details on that great adventure!)

One day I went into a small store in Oaxaca, a charming town in southern Mexico. I was sniffling and needed a pack of tissues. I described what I needed to the sales clerk, in Spanish: "I need a paper tissue, because I am sniffling and I need to blow my nose." "Oh, sí, Señor," she replied, helpfully. The word for that in Spanish is "Kleenex!"

I laughed and bought a pack of Kleenex. But then I pondered the power of their brand. The word "Kleenex" had truly become synonymous with "tissue" in Spanish just as it has in English.

Kimberly Clark made a conscious decision to focus their energy and attention on their ability to brand a product and market it - and to let their skill in production and paper-making follow. Thus, they no longer think of themselves as a production company or as a paper company. They think of themselves as a marketing company that has a fantastic ability to come up with great brands and to market them.

Think of these brands: Viva, Scott, Cottonelle, Snuggies, Wypall, Fiesta, KleenGuard, Kotex, Depend, DryNites and Huggies, among others. You will recognize products within the health and hygiene field that have developed powerful brands that are part of your visual scan every time you go shopping. They are all Kimberly Clark brands.

What is your strength? What makes your company special? What makes your creative juices flow? What gets you excited? Most of all, what value does it bring to your customer?

Think about your brand and what that name conveys to your customer. How can you maximize the power of your brand so it becomes implanted in the minds of your customers the same way that Kleenex became synonymous with tissues?


Steve Savage, 20 West Canal Street, Suite 511, Winooski, VT 05404 Tel 802-355-8533 Fax 877-378-2230
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