Goodbye Kitty

By November 23, 2010BLG Leadership Insights

We all worry about getting our name out there. Whether you sell a product or an idea, it’s a constant battle to keep your name on people’s tongues.  We use every method and tool available to bombard the public from every possible angle, all in an often quixotic effort to get people to buy our wares.  For the rare few, fantastic success can be the result from all this hard work and vigilance. But with anything good, you can over-do it. Even the most revered products and ideas can actually brand and sell themselves into a corner. A perfect example of this modern and I guess not-so-bad-to-have conundrum, is that most bizarre yet seemingly beloved icon, Hello Kitty.

In a recent article in The Australian, Alistair Jones details the rise and current fall of this incredibly popular Japanese creation. Jones points out that while still wildly successful, Sanrio’s Hello Kitty brand may have reached its zenith due to several factors, most prominent of which is the overselling of the brand itself, which is aptly referred to as “brand fatigue”.  Jones reports that Hello Kitty appears on over 22,000 products world-wide, everything from the more obvious stuffed toys to the less obvious bowling balls and USB Flash Drives. It seems that if you can sell it, Sanrio can and has plaster Hello Kitty on it.

The downside to all of this success is that after a while, people just get sick and tired of having even the cutest of products shoved down their throats. It may seem like quite an elegant problem (i.e. sell lots of stuff, make tons of $), but it’s still a problem and it can happen on any level.  The leader of even the smallest business has to be picky and choosy about where, when and how they decide to spread their name. I am not saying that making money shouldn’t be the #1 goal, but subtly and exclusivity also have a place at the table. Like everything else in leadership, business and life for that matter, balance is the key to long lasting success. Hello Kitty is not the kind of brand that is going to just disappear overnight, but the over harvesting of its name and popularity might just bring its demise sooner then later.

Photo Credit: devlyn

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