This year marks the 50th Anniversary of the James Bond film franchise. I am an action film addict and I confess that like millions of fans out there, I await every new Bond movie with anticipation. James Bond has fascinated and annoyed many millions of film views and pundits in almost like measure, but like him or not, the makers of this iconic film have managed to create a brand with millions of loyal followers.
Why then has James bond become a world- wide brand, commanding a following second only to Harry Potter? And can marketers learn anything at all from this movie brand?
Bond makes us feel good about ourselves
Bond never loses his charm and whether he is talking to the scheming and conniving bad bond girl or elderly ladies, he is his attentive and disarming self. A great brand is one that fights for justice and defeats evil in the eyes of its consumers and in the case of consumer brands, one that effectively resolves the problem that consumers have. In the end it makes us feel good about us by enhancing our self- concept. We love brands that are able to make us feel special, brands that make us feel that we are the reason that their executives and managers wake up and go to work every morning and not their huge profits or their huge salaries.
Bond knows his enemies well
James Bond is seemingly invincible because he knows his enemy and he intuitively figures out his enemy’s plans. He therefore never goes into battle unprepared, down to the gadgets hidden all over his person.
And so in the corporate battle field great brands know who their competitors are, what their strengths and weaknesses are and they use this information to create for themselves, core competencies that their competitors cannot copy, including products and services that appeal to the hearts and minds of their customers.
Bond has a great image
Many of my male friends hate James Bond. And I can understand why. Bond looks great in …well almost anything.. from his custom make clothes to the occasional wetsuit. There is no evidence of flab and middle spread on him. And he always gets the girl. Even when he is beaten black and blue and has been in prison for months, he has what today’s youngsters call swagger aka Mick Jagger.
Some of the world’s most valuable brands have created a great image over time and brand identities that we have come to connect with and to know and love. Even as the brands have evolved, we continue to use their products and services because we identify with their brand image and the values that the brand represent.
Bond is consistent
“Martini, shaken, not stirred” Throughout 50 years of Bond movies, we have heard James Bond say this line. While the years have rolled by, the cars and the gadgets have changed, the leading men and women have changed, but the image of the ruggedly handsome, charming, manly and deadly spy has not changed, the story line is almost predictable and the villain is never likable.
Great brands that have remained consistent over time while keeping up to date with their customers’ changing expectations and needs, new technologies etc continue to command country patronage and many have also achieved global following. Those brands that have tried to change so drastically that customers could no longer identify with them and or have not been able to keep up to date with their customers have unfortunately fallen along the way or lost their customer base.
Bond is a great communicator
Bond always know what to say, even when he is in a near death situation, he never to lose his cool. Great brands know how to engage their customers and communicate with them at their point of need. They inform, probe, question, entertain and keep their customers informed about their products and services.
Bond makes mistakes but we forgive him
To err is human and Bond sometimes makes choices that we question. He has frequently found himself in situations where he has been thoroughly overpowered. Even great brands miss the mark many times , but because of the reputational bank account of good will that they have built over years, we forgive them and support them to get back on track.
Bond loves the things that we love to own
James Bond movies are full of popular brands that we love and admire. From the Aston Martin, to the BMW to the Mercedes, to the designer fashion, the jewels, we take it all in and wish for an hour and a half that we lived this life.
Brands that we love and are loyal to, know that to keep customer loyalty, they have to identify with the things that matter to us. After all we do not buy products and services but we buy into what those products say about who we are.
To the utter dismay of some of my friends, I shall join the millions of fans who will go and watch the next Bond movie when it lands on our screens, if only to experience the Bond brand of movie magic. Love him, hate him, James Bond can teach marketers a thing or two about branding. Happy birthday to the 50 year old movie icon.