‘This Black Friday, We’re Closing All Our 143 Stores’

See grain. Go against it.

In a wonderful promotion that goes straight to the heart of its brand, outdoors consumer product brand REI (Recreational Equipment Inc) decided to remain closed this Black Friday. It will instead pay its employees to spend the day outside. An idea that is so nuts for a big retailer, that will lose important revenue on the biggest revenue generating day of the year, that would never go past any Board of Directors or Shareholders…that it makes for the perfect promotion for REI to pull off.

That is the question I always ask startups as I help define their brand strategy. What is it that makes you so unique and how can you leverage your uniqueness to gain hearts?

REI is a co-op. It is owned by its members, its shoppers, by all of us. If anyone, they are uniquely able to ‘#optoutside.’ A genius move that goes deep into the heart of the outdoors brand and its loyal audience: “While the rest of the world is fighting it out in the aisles, we hope to see you in the great outdoors.” Opt Outside. The revenue that they will (likely) lose that day, they are gaining in lifelong, renewed, love by its members. A love that is worth every penny (used solely as a metaphor) of their Black Friday losses. Money can’t buy what this strategy will give back to their brand.

What is your takeaway?

Well, what is your startup uniquely able to do? Define and follow it to connect with your audience in deeper, more meaningful and plenty of profitable ways. Oh, one more detail: Have the courage to execute upon it.

With a full-fledged campaign on its heels, which you can view through its web site, I leave you with two videos that sum up a brand doing it right:

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