Can you present your brand consistently when you are always doing something new? Red Bull does it!
Two weekends ago my wife and I went on a ski trip to Angel Fire, New Mexico with some friends. One day while we were there a Red Bull van parked on the back side of the mountain and started blasting loud music and while they gave away free cans of Red Bull. Later on in the day they hosted the Red Bull Powder Jam, a free concert halfway down one of the runs, featuring an underground band from Albuquerque, Your Name in Lights. All you had to have to attend was some way of getting down to the concert: skis, snowboard, snow bike. The whole thing totally fit the Red Bull image, and it was a lot of fun.
The next day seemed strangely quiet, as if something was missing. It took a couple of times up and down the mountain to realize why it was so quiet. The Red Bull van was no where to be seen. I guessed they had to move on, but I wondered why they didn’t stay for a few days longer to reinforce the brand building they had done the day before.
I got my answer to that question yesterday. I’m in the process of reading Authenticity by James H. Gilmore and B. Joseph Pine II. I came across a story about one of the authors experience with a the Flugtag event which was hosted by Red Bull and started in 1991. Entrants designed their own themed flying machines and where shot off a 35-foot high platform into the water below. The author (I say author because the book didn’t specify whether it was James or Joseph.) was impressed with the event and even entered it in 2004 but after that, to his disappointment Red Bull never returned to host the event again. Then at a trade show he ran into a Red Bull exhibit at a trade show and asked why they never hosted the event again. This is what the marketing manager had to say,
“That’s not our M.O.; we don’t want to become stagnant, and turning locations off, we’ve found, helps keep the brand real.”
What Red Bull has realized, and I now understand, is that they were at there to provide a brand experience. In this case it was a renegade concert on the side of the mountain. They delivered and then moved on, leaving Angel Fire wanting more instead of sticking around to sell customers who were already sold.