Branding Revelation #2: Lessons From Looney Tunes

Posted: March 15, 2011 in Little-Known Revelations On Branding

Looney Tunes In my last post, I shared with you A Branding Revelation From The Movie Braveheart.”

Today I want to share with you another branding revelation I had recently.

But first, let me give you some of the backstory…

I grew up loving cartoons. In fact, for a long time in my life I wanted to be a cartoonist or an animator.  (I’ll tell you more about that story in an upcoming post.)

One of the cartoons I loved watching as a kid were Warner Bros “Looney Tunes.”

I have three sons ages 5 to 10.  I wanted them to experience the same joy that I did from these cartoon, so thanks to Netflix (I LOVE Netflix), I put one of the Looney Tunes compilation DVDs in our “queue.”  We received it in the mail a month ago.

We sat down and watched the cartoons and I was so proud that my boys loved the cartoons as much as I did! It was really fun to get to see some of the old cartoons I loved watching as a kid and to be sitting their with my own sons having them love them too.

In fact, my boys loved them so much that we decided to get the next “Looney Tunes” compilation DVD from Netflix.  And guess what?  The boys loved the cartoons on that one too!  :)

But as I was watching the cartoons something surprising, and unexpected happened…  I suddenly became aware of another “Branding revelation.” Let me explain.

As I was watching the cartoons I realized how much I loved each of the different characters that Warner Bros created: Bugs, Daffy, Wile E. Coyote, Road Runner, Foghorn Leghorn, Slyvester, Tweety, and the list goes on!

That’s when I realized this: What made Looney Tunes cartoons so great was the totally unique characters they created.

  • There was no other rabbit like Bugs Bunny. He looked a certain way, talked a certain way (“Yaah, What’s up? Doc?“), walked a certain way, and always acted a certain way.
  • Foghorn Leghorn wasn’t just another rooster.  He had an “old south” accent, he always acted “smart-a-lecky” like he knew more than everyone else (“I say, boy, pay attention when I’m talkin’ to ya, boy!”), he walked a certain way and again always acted a certain way.
  • Even Wile E. Coyote, who hardly ever said a word, totally stood out from the average Coyote!  He had those “Wiley” eybrows.  We always knew he was a determined character.  We knew he was going to try another crazy trap to catch the Road Runner. But we also knew, because of who Road Runner was, that the plan would backfire and Wile E. was going to fail again.

If you’ve seen these cartoons, all I have to do is show you an image of one of these characters and you will instantly recognize them and know what they stand for and what they’re all about.

Can the same be said about your logo or the image of you or your business?  If you’re like most businesses, then the answer is probably “No!”

Most businesses suffer from what I call “genericism.”  They don’t stand out.  They describe what they do and what they are by the category they’re in.  They’re an Italian restaurant or they’re a plumber.

See why I call it generic?  What type of Italian restaurant?  What kind of plumber?  If I don’t know these things then you’re just a “me too” Italian restaurant or a “me too” plumber.

Your brand has to do the same thing that the Looney Tunes animators did with their characters.  It must represent you as unique.

Your brand must show me your uniqueness in these ways:

  • In the way you or business communicates with me
  • In the way you or your employees carry yourselves
  • In the way you or your employees act

You see your brand should telegraph the personality or “character” that represents your business.  You have to know the personality or character you want your business to have and to portray before you really have a brand!

Here are just some of the types of questions you need to answer to telegraph who you and your business are to me:

  • Are you or your business formal or laid back?
  • Are you or your business fun (or funny) or serious?
  • Are you or your business cool or common?
  • Are you high end/expensive, middle-of-the-road, or low cost?
  • Are you or your business corporate or more “mom-and-pop“?

It basically comes down to answering these questions: Who are you?  Who is your business? What makes you different?  What can I expect from you in my experience with you and/or from your product or service? (Remember the “4th Challenge That Every Successful Business Overcomes“?)

What I think of and how I feel when I see you, your logo, or your location comes from how well you uniquely communicate with me, interact with me, and portray yourself to me.

But wait. Before you go. Lean a little closer
Have you ever seen a Looney Tunes cartoon?

Never or not in awhile?

Well I have a treat for you.  Just click this link and watch a short cartoon with Wile E. Coyote and The Road Runner.  It’s called “Zoom & Bored.”

If your boss catches you (or if your employees catch you if you ARE the boss), then just tell them you’re doing marketing research!  :)

If you know someone else who might want to read this post, then use the links below to spread the love.  Thanks.

Coming Soon:
In the next post, I’m going to tell you about an African-American man named “Pearl” who accidentally discovered the real power of a brand.  It all began when he set out with the humble goal to win the “Lawn Of The Month” award.

P.S. And if you stick around, I’ll eventually show you how to put all this into practice for yourself and your business. In fact, I’m going to show you by my own example.

You’ll see what I mean.  If you stick around.

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