Devil Dog Dungarees

 They say the devil is in the details. Here is a sign.

Devil-Dog Dungarees in Zebulon, North Carolina
I passed this sign almost everyday for seven years and never once stopped to look closely at it. From afar, I admired the graphic but never took the time to take a closer look. 

Last week, with iPhone in hand, I decided I needed a few photos and to see what in the world are (or were) Devil Dog Dungarees?  Located in Zebulon, N.C. near where I work, I pass this abandon manufacturing facility at least once a day. As I pulled into the parking lot, there wasn’t a person around, a stitch of blue cotton or a car in the lot. After peaking into the building, It appeared to be a textile manufacturer that went bust many years ago. 

I was drawn in by the sign and the great brand name. And dungarees are one of my favorite words. Its what I used to say instead of blue jeans. It is very old school. 

A few clicks online showed that Devil Dogs are a nickname for marines. But this facility was a textile plant not associated with these products or soldiers. Devil Dog Dungarees appeared to be the most boring blue jeans made. No style, no great distinction and a brand that was built on some very uninteresting imagery. I could see not only an abandoned plant but this was also an abandoned brand that no one really cared about- ever. 

This business was one of many North Carolina firms that just couldn’t compete with foreign textile imports. It was an empty plant- a hollow shell. There was a sadness about the space as if something had died- like their brand. 

I did manage to find a picture of a pair of their jeans or as we called them in high school- dungarees on ebay. (Not something you’d see a Kardashian wear) I even found a copy of their original label for the Rancher which was nationally advertised. 

The Aristocrat of Western Jeans (how is that for a mixed message)?
How does a brand dies?
What could they have done differently if they had invested in the right marketing approach? How can you prevent your brand from becoming victim to lower priced options?

Off the cuff I'd say Devil Dog Dungarees stop fitting their target audience? The faced a ton of competition from cheap oversees imports. What did they do to try and counter this attack?

Even Bruce Jenner wouldn't be caught dead in these Mommie jeans
I don’t know with any certainty. But I assume that they never really tried to distinguish their brand in an impassioned way.  Sure they ran some ads in magazines that told about the special features on the product like being resistant at the point of strain and that they used extra strong rip-resistant thread.

But most people buy for emotional reasons not because of practical features. Sure, we want to know about differences between two products but ultimately, a purchase comes from other needs like status, a need to fit in, a need to not fit in or some other non-rational need. I know that I make plenty of purchases based on illogical reasons and I think most of us do. (See my blog about my Dyson vacuum that cost $500)

Did Devil Dog Dungarees stop investing in keeping their style current and up to date? Or, where they trying to be a nostalgic brand that just ran out of customers who wanted nostalgic blue jeans? Did they stop seeding their future growth by connecting their brand with their target audience. When the competition became hard to fight, did they give up the battle trying to compete on price?

You can always find it cheaper
There is always a cheaper brand or a less expensive version of what you make or sell. Branding has to take you to a level beyond the price or you will never be able to sustain your business over a long time. It is through an investment in the brand resonating with your audience that allows your customers to care with an emotional bond that is stronger than any discount. 

Dead Plant
"A brand can provide the benefit of being an even stronger bond that any feature like a tear-resistant thread."

Just as you have to keep investing in equipment or tools or training, a brand also needs care and maintenance. A plant will die without equipment investment. Same is true of your brand.

Abandon your brand to grow on its own and it will starve and wither on the vine. It needs fertilizers, food and someone to nurture it along. 

Is your brand on this path toward its demise? Maybe you need to tend to your garden. 

Labels: , , , ,