Adding Reverence to Your Brand

Consumers demand brand authenticity today. They want to know that what they’re getting is what marketers are telling them that they’re getting. And if marketers are falling short, social media and online comments will let them know immediately.

Accordingly, brands are pulling out all the stops to gain customer satisfaction and respect. But if your competitors are raising the bar along with you, how do you take the next step up to separate yourself? Where do you go to turn up the “I’m different” dial even further on your brand? 

The answer might be incorporating a uniquely admired or cherished element into your product and branding that would be difficult for competitors to match. In other words, elevating preference and respect for your brand to reverence and fanaticism.

Here are a few examples of how businesses have used or added an exclusive component—from their history, suppliers, and, uh, bodies—to their brand to help achieve this.

Authenticity a century in the making
There are family-owned burger joints everywhere. But how many do you know promote the fact that they use grease that’s more than 100 years old?

Dyer’s Burgers of Memphis is renowned throughout the Mid-South for not just their tasty burgers but for how they’re cooked. Ever since Dyer’s was founded in 1912, they’ve used the same grease to deep-fry their burgers every day. Not the same brand of grease, but the actual grease that’s been sitting in their fryers for 109 years

Whenever additional grease is needed for cooking, Dyers ensures that its original grease—with more than a century’s worth of flavor—is mixed in with the new grease. And when Dyer’s changed locations, the precious grease was transported and even paraded down the streets of Memphis to the new location by armored car. Even though we’re talking about grease, when it’s the foundation of your brand, you treat it accordingly.

Honoring what fans love
Few sports teams embrace and cherish their past to the degree that European soccer teams do. Each team’s stadium is a beloved physical expression of the team brand. Many teams today continue to play in stadiums that date back to their original location and construction in the 19th century. 

When London-based Tottenham Hotspur decided to build a new mega-stadium in 2016 to replace their White Hart Lane home, built in 1898, the owners knew many fans would oppose the decision, sure that the new stadium would be devoid of the soul and spirit of the original. So when the new stadium was finished in 2019, it incorporated several sacred elements of Tottenham’s history into several key areas. 

In the main gateway, a small well with a transparent viewing window was built into the flooring and showcases the very first brick used in the construction of the old White Hart Lane stadium. At one end of the stadium, high above the stands, sits a giant golden rooster emblem (Tottenham’s mascot) replicated from the original smaller golden rooster at White Hart Lane. What makes the new rooster especially endearing to fans is the fact that all of the dents and craters that were part of the old rooster (courtesy of a drunken air rifle incident in the early 90s involving fan favorite player Paul Gascoigne) were incorporated into the new version as well, thanks to 3D computer modeling. 

And finally, while the old White Hart Lane was renowned for being one of the loudest, most raucous venues in all of English soccer, the new stadium features specially designed sound deflectors that redirect crowd noise back into the stadium, making for an even more intimidating atmosphere for visiting teams. Since its completion, Tottenham Hotspur Stadium has received multiple awards for engineering, architecture, and branding as well.

Prestige sub-branding
As there are many critical systems and components within a car that come from manufacturers outside of the actual car brand you purchase, sub-branding or third-party branding opportunities abound, helping to raise prestige and/or appeal factors even higher. 

Brembo brake components have long been synonymous with Formula 1 racing machines, and have now found their way, in modified form, into sports cars such as Corvettes, Jaguars, Porsches, and even some models of Mazdas and Hondas. Mark Levinson is recognized as one of the world’s most exclusive and highest quality home audio system brands; Lexus now features audio electronics and speakers bearing the Levinson name. And given the shared affinity for outdoor adventure among Subaru and L.L. Bean followers, it should come as no surprise that for many years Subaru offered a L.L. Bean-branded version of its popular Outback station wagon with upgraded engines and seating.

A fluid decision
Sometimes, when your brand already stands for non-conformity and outrageousness, you have to give more of yourself than ever before. Which is what skateboarding legend Tony Hawk recently did when he incorporated some of his actual blood into the paint that was applied to a limited edition skateboard. It’s safe to say that no other skateboards around can claim that the godfather of the skater world is literally a part of their product.

Incorporating a uniquely revered element into your product and brand may not always be an option, especially if it’s new and has little or no recognition or history. But if you’re an established brand in a highly competitive marketplace with battles constantly being fought over pricing, quality, packaging, and other well-worn ground, dig a little deeper into what your fans like most about you. Even if you don’t have century-old grease at your disposal, there might be something in your past that could be more valuable to your branding than you think.