A perennial favourite amongst my family members, Kipling has carved a niche for itself with its selection of well designed handbags, haversacks, satchels, wallets and suitcases. Arrayed in an attractive range of colours, designs and styles, Kipling offers something for everybody.
What I find unique about Kipling is that furry little simian dangling from the zipper. My son goes ape over those little critters. He has amassed a tidy little collection of different gorillas in shades of orange, green, red, brown, and black.
Those Kipling apes are what I call a “social object”. According to renowned cartoonist Hugh MacLeod, a social object is…
“…the reason two people are talking to each other, as opposed to talking to somebody else. Human beings are social animals. We like to socialize. But if we think about it, there needs to be a reason for it to happen in the first place. That reason, that “node” in the social network, is what we call the Social Object.”
In a fashion and consumer market flooded with hundreds of brands, Kipling’s little apes have become conversation pieces. They help the brand differentiate itself from its competitors while building the affinity between parent and child.
This uniqueness helps Kipling to endear itself to its customers beyond the designs, materials, styles and functions of its bags. It provides that little “Aha!” factor which allows it to stand out from the rest. It also adds an element of irreverence and fun to an otherwise utilitarian and commodified good.
The next time you think about creating a new product or service, consider introducing an element of meaningful quirkiness so that it can stand out from the sea of brands. Make it an artefact that becomes a social object – one that can help the brand increase its social quotient. Better yet, make it a feature which helps to bond your customers and their communities.