The most obvious example is Geico’s omnipresent green gecko. But it may not be the best example of an icon that connects immediately to brand attributes as it builds enduring share of mind.
What does a lizard have to do with car insurance anyway? How does he symbolize Geico’s competitive advantage? It’s simply lost on me. The Caveman, who came and went some time ago, also was lost on me, although he certainly grabbed attention and cranked up the brand’s awareness, thanks to a seemingly bottomless bucket of media buys.
Compare the strategic value of Geico’s gecko with The Energizer Bunny, who directly (and immediately!) communicates product value and thus has fantastic staying power, even though you don’t see him around nearly as much.
Ferreting out Geico’s product benefits seems to require two steps:
1. Well, here’s this familiar ol’ lizard. He’s a gecko that represents GEICO. Kinda cute, too – and he has a really sophisticated Brit accent (all of which tend to make you think of the character and his characteristics instead of the product and its benefits).
2. And – by the way, Geico sells low cost car insurance (which I know because I’ve heard it on the radio sixty gazillion times).
Which marketer has to work the hardest to communicate product positioning? Geico or Energizer? Which has to invest the most to maintain share of mind for its iconic image?
For all the visibility the lizard has bought for Geico, they’re going to have to keep the pedal to the metal to keep their advertising mascot alive, and if they ever stop, methinks the lizard will eventually fade away and they’ll have to come up with another cute something. In the meantime, the Energizer Bunny just keeps motoring along in my mind.
When was the last time I saw him on TV anyway?
TakeAway: Cute and creative isn’t enough unless you have a practically unlimited ad budget.
Strategic relevance is needed for long-term effectiveness.
© Brian E. Faulkner