I’ve got brand envy.

Is there such a thing?

If you’ve never been in an Eddie Bauer store they use their slogan, “Live Your Adventure” like an elixir. Subtly mixing comfortable, well-crafted clothing with adventure sport and travel.  Pictures of far off locations and hard to reach landscapes overwhelm the scenery. Great looking adventurers guide others to far off places and celebrate their achievements together.  It is designed to capture the attention and imagination of the customer and lead them somewhere.

It works on me.

Their retail stores feature television screens with videos of rock climbers, mountain bikers, hikers and ice climbers to reinforce the idea that a chump accountant who buys a very comfortable paid of pants is somehow climbing that mountain himself.

What does this have to do with clothing?

You know the answer.


As a CPA I’m not professionally trained in recognizing brands.

A left-brained math person isn’t supposed to be easily swayed by such ephemeral ideas like marketing and branding.  I don’t usually recognize when I identify with brands.  Sure, I wear clothes, drive cars and make decisions according to what I like, but those are just what I like, right?

Then came this past Christmas.

A strong contingent of gifts came in olive green bags with “Live Your Adventure” written on the side. I thought it was odd.

Am I really in THAT demographic?  Why do people keep buying this for me? Could I really be that susceptible to branding?

My wardrobe might have something to say about that.

Judge me all you want; I like warm clothes. I love the idea of the outdoors and increasingly want to shake off the ordinary office day for some much-needed time away from adjustable chairs, wireless internet, and climate-controlled temperatures.

Eddie Bauer uses these pictures of adventure to build their brand.

Of course, all great companies build their brands.  I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t trying to do this myself.  

There are yoga brands, success brands, luxury brands, achiever brands, independence brands and every other number of brands.  Great businesses create great brands. Brands for people with exceptional dogs and brands for people who are too smart to pay for other brands.

The branding concept hit me this past month.  As a lover of March Madness, I watched more than my share of hoops in the past few weeks.  The “bracketology,” heartaches, broken brackets and colorful commentary all coalesce to create a memorable and exciting event to start spring.

Did you see the two bearded guys at the games, one in orange and one in white?  The camera would frequently pan over these two characters somehow not showing their school spirit and oddly subdued despite the game’s outcome.

It had my mind racing.

What are these guys doing wearing colorful suits at a basketball game?

It wasn’t just me wondering this question, it seemed everyone had a theory of who they were and what they were doing.  Finally, after seeing these guys in rounds 1, 2 and 3, I made the connection with the sponsorship of the tournament.  Coca Cola, a primary sponsor of the NCAA tournament, was introducing a new cola, Orange Vanilla Coke and these two were simply placed at the game to draw the connection and association with the brand.

Pretty good, Coke.

Did I mention I’m a CPA?  Sure I studied marketing in the required classes but that stuff’s not for accountants.  Let’s get to the numbers and data and forget all that feely stuff.

I’m really not sure why a CPA is writing about branding in the first place.  It’s way outside my lane!

Except for the fact that I’m currently undergoing a rebrand.  I’ve realized it’s like learning a new language or culture.  And with most new things, it’s better to be a learner first and then be a teacher.  While I doubt I’ll ever become a teacher on branding, I certainly appreciate the challenge after having done this for my own firm.

I know the aches and pains, the frustration, and the questioning.  When one of my clients is having a bad day, I can better appreciate that it might not be because of the numbers, but because they just can’t quite put their finger on the perfect phrase for their new website.  I get it because I’m doing it too.

And the experience of branding a company has taught me to recognize and appreciate the brands that speak to me.  Maybe I am more susceptible to the messaging than I thought.

Congratulations, Eddie Bauer!  You got me. I’m envious of your brand.