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CREATIVE STRATEGY: What big brands can learn from obscure boots

Recently, I needed to buy some military boots (it's a long story). As luck had it, a friend made me aware of Shipton & Heneage.

Shipton & Heneage: quality brand with free extras to boot

Shipton & Heneage: quality brand with free extras to boot

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Design-wise, the Shipton & Heneage site is functional and unfussy, and that’s OK.

However, the copy does have real personality, it says "From the wind-buffeted Minch Moor of John Buchan, to Arthur Ransome's gleaming Windemere lakeshore, to Graham Greene's clamorous, fag-strewn Brighton beaches, Britain has many landscapes – and dreamscapes – to explore".

Nice. Copy this charming is a rarity on websites. But why? With the opening lines, I was given a real sense of what Shipton & Heneage stands for as a brand. And, more than that, as I placed my order, I also had a sense of the quality I should expect – in the product and in the customer service.

So, when the anticipated parcel arrived, I was only slightly surprised that it contained more than the pair of boots I had ordered.

Slipped into the box were two pairs of socks and a shoe brush. Could this have been a mistake? Possibly – the free extras were not mentioned on the delivery note.

But I’m still hoping that it was Shipton & Heneage’s way of welcoming me to their brand. If so, I applaud their intelligence. (Although it would have been smart to include a note that made their intentions clear!)

A planner friend of mine once said that companies can create three kinds of incentives: 

  • A reward for doing something.

  • The potential to lose out if you don’t act.

  • A pleasant surprise for responding.

In her phrase: "Carrots, sticks and chocolates".  They are quite different in tone and effect.

"Chocolates" are the most unusual of the incentive triumvirate, but even if they became a common marketing tool, they would always have talkability.

Imagine if any of the big banks ever gave us something nice that we hadn’t been expecting? Quite.

So while my personal case history cites one of the world’s more obscure brands, you can be damn sure of its relevance to famous names.

Simon S Kershaw is a creative consultant and a former creative director at Craik Jones.

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