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When Branding Brilliance Inspires Imitation

Every brand can cre­ate an inno­va­tion that also solves a prob­lem. Some­times, that prob­lem lies behind closed doors where ladies would rather leave the bath­room smelling like ros­es. Do you already have an idea of what prod­uct this is? It’s Poo-Pouri! A bril­liant, yet sim­ple solu­tion that allowed ladies to feel com­fort­able using the restroom (a scent saver dur­ing tum­my issues). Their brand­ing is what placed the prod­uct to the top charts — sell­ing over $4 mil­lion bot­tles short­ly after their launch.

Branding innovation at it’s best

What made Poo-Pouri so pop­u­lar? Aside from the fact it solved a pret­ty impor­tant issue and did it in a way that made it easy to talk about, it was their uber-clever mar­ket­ing that took this shin­ning star straight to the top. Bril­liant com­mer­cials using pot­ty humor and wit, along with fun visu­als helped women remove the embar­rass­ment of leav­ing a too-fra­grant bath­room behind them.

Every ele­ment to their brand con­spire to that end, suc­ceed­ing in mak­ing women feel they could be com­plete­ly relieved of embar­rass­ment in a mul­ti­tude of real life sit­u­a­tions, as you can see in their adver­tise­ment below.

You can’t deny that after see­ing that video, you too would be able to attend a fan­cy par­ty and leave no trail behind… in the bath­room. The voice, set­ting, and wardrobe as well as the word­ing of the script all sup­port the brand and it’s mes­sage. It’s hard to achieve, but they sure nailed it! No won­der it’s been viewed near­ly 40 mil­lion times on YouTube!

The copycats emerge

As soon as Poo-Pouri rose to the top, oth­ers start­ed to cre­ate their own ver­sions, from a make-your-own using essen­tial oils to one repli­ca that came a lit­tle too close to the whole brand expe­ri­ence. While it’s com­mon to see com­pet­ing brands emerge once a com­pa­ny is dom­i­nat­ing the mar­ket, usu­al­ly they try to put their own spin on a prod­uct, or take it to the next lev­el. How­ev­er, that’s not always the case. Here’s a great exam­ple:

The set­ting tran­si­tions, pack­ag­ing, pot­ty-humor are so close to the orig­i­nal Poo-Pouri brand, that this emu­la­tion earned V.I.Poo (an Air Wick / Reckitt Benckiser com­pa­ny) a law­suit from the woman-owned Poo-Pouri busi­ness. “This is about pro­tect­ing the cre­ativ­i­ty we’ve used to build an icon­ic brand. It’s not fair for such a large com­pa­ny to come in and copy what we’ve done when they have the resources to cre­ate their own brand and own image,” said the founder and CEO of Poo-Pour­ri, Suzy Batiz.

It can be alarm­ing for an inno­va­tor to see com­peti­tors try to tap into their cre­ative niche, but it is the nature of the free mar­ket. How­ev­er, once a brand estab­lish­es cred­i­bil­i­ty as the orig­i­nal, cus­tomers usu­al­ly stay loy­al to that prod­uct. Espe­cial­ly when the price-point is a few cents less. A per­fect exam­ple of brand loy­al­ty towards the orig­i­nal is found on the Ama­zon reviews. Poo-Pouri has over 8,000 reviews and 4.8 out of 5 stars. While V.I. Poo has slight­ly over 300 and 4 stars. When it comes to sales, Reckitt Benckiser report­ed $13 bil­lion in glob­al sales for 2015 — out of that amount, it’s hard to tell what came from V.I.Poo. Poo-Pouri had close to $40 mil­lion.

When brand­ing stays authen­tic and true, the focus becomes on the cus­tomers, not a pure­ly sales-dri­ven approach.

Nicte Creative Design
Nicte Cuevas, Principal of Nicte Creative Design, empowers mission-driven businesses through strategic design & branding. Nicte has applied this when working with Adobe Spark and Twitter Business, Dogs on Deployment and Purina, Girl Scouts, The Houston Zoo and The Contemporary Arts Museum. Her excellence in communication design & marketing has been recognized by multiple national / international awards, including a coveted feature in Graphic Design USA's People to Watch.

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