UPDATE: THIS ENTRY HAS BEEN CROSS POSTED AT THE NEW BRANDSTORY BLOG WHERE I NOW WRITE. I'D BE HONORED IF YOU WOULD CLICK THROUGH AND ADD IT TO YOUR BOOKMARKS.
That's exactly what Buckley's cough syrup has done. It tastes awful. In fact, it tastes so bad that it has to work or nobody would ever use it again. And the story has caught on. It's featured prominently in advertising and on the web. Customers are encouraged to send in photos of their contorted faces after they have had their dose of nasty tasting cough syrup. Buckley's website features a short note from Frank Buckley about a recurring "nightmare" that he has to take a taste. It's a terrific example of building a brand story around a product feature (one most brand managers would rather hide).
Compare Buckley's story to Robitussin or Triaminic. You'll search in vain for a brand story for the other two products. Does anyone remember the Dr. Mom campaign? These days Robitussin says they have a formula with my name on it. Not much of a story there—especially when the formula I need has Roz's name on it. And this is what passes for a story on Triaminic's site. I'd like to meet the child who asks to log on to Triaminic.com to play the games.
By contrast, here are a few of the headlines Buckley's has used to tell it's brand story:
Made with oil of Pine needles. What did you expect it to taste like?
People swear by it. And at it.
Our largest bottle is 200 ml. Anything larger would be cruel.
I'm dedicated to ensuring that every new batch of Buckley's tastes as bad as the last.
Four of the most dreaded words in the English language: "Get out the Buckley's!"
It's a great story. Admitting their weakness upfront humanizes the brand and makes it more acceptable. Other cough syrups seem cold in comparison. Kudos to Buckley's for creating a story consumers can actually relate to. You can read more about Buckley's here. Thanks to Brand New Day for the links.