What the Amish can Teach us about Branding

Is your brand’s customer experience designed from your company’s perspective or your customers’?

Hear the word Amish and we tend to think people who are anti-technology. But, like all stereotypes, this perception isn’t really accurate. According to Amish.America.com, Amish do in fact use a large measure of modern technology. This may range from everything from solar panels to diesel-powered laundry machines to cell phones.” *

One such tool is the “Amish computer,” a no-frills, low-tech workhorse designed specifically for Amish businesses. And one particular brand is as well-known among the Amish as Dell or Apple is among us non-Amish. It’s called “the Classic.”

The Classic Word Processor was developed about 12 years ago by an old order, horse-and-buggy Mennonite named Allen Hoover. Hoover, who already had a business retrofitting modern tools to run on Amish-accepted alternative power, saw a product gap among his customers. Amish people accepted old-school word processors but avoided modern computers because of their ability to connect to the outside world through the internet. Unfortunately, no one was making the kind of word processors the Amish used anymore. Hoover developed the Classic to meet this need while utilizing 3 important brand truths.

1. Customers Build Brands, Not Companies

Before launching the Classic brand, Hoover met with several Amish groups. He wanted to know 2 things: what were the Amish’s rules about technology and what did the Amish want from a business computer. He discovered the greatest needs were to make spreadsheets, track inventory, generate receipts and create simple drawings. He teamed up with computer programmers and used open-source software to build the ultimate Amish computer—one that can only do these things.

Take-away: Is your brand’s customer experience designed from your company’s perspective or your customers’?

2. Differentiate Yourself In A Way That Is Meaningful To Your Customer

There is more to differentiating your brand than simply offering something different than your competitors. True differentiation is the ability to distinguish yourself in a way that is personally meaningful to your customers. The key differentiator of the Classic brand is all the things it doesn’t do. The Classic computer has no modem or phone port to connect to the internet, no way to play videos, games or music, no way to upload pictures or third party apps. Providing a stripped-down computer differentiated the brand from its competitors in a way that was meaningful to the Amish.

Take-away: How does your brand differentiate from competitors in a meaningful way?

3. Be Clear About Your Brand Promise

A brand is only as good as its promise. Allen Hoover wanted a computer brand the Amish could trust, so he made the brand’s promise clear in all his advertising: “Made specifically for the Plain People. Unequalled safety: no modem, no sound, no photographs, no games or gimmicks. Service provided by real persons.”

Take-away: What is your brand’s promise and how well do you deliver on it?

A comprehensive brand strategy helps all aspects of your brand connect with your customers in a meaningful way. At Bradbury, we focus on strategy first. Contact us for a free, no obligation consultation to learn more about the potential strengths and gaps of your brand strategy.

* http://amishamerica.com/do-amish-use-technology/