Episode 19


I spent 25 years as a brand marketing executive at Nabisco, Kraft Foods, Cadbury, and Godiva. Throughout my career, I crafted identities, using just ‘One Word’, for some of the world’s most iconic brands such as Planters, Chips Ahoy!, Dentyne, and Godiva. In these episodes, I will challenge listeners to think differently about the brands they interact with every day by showing how their ‘One Word’ core value helps them break through the clutter and stand-out. Let’s listen to today’s brand clip…PELOTON.

Show Notes (click to expand)
What does it mean to be a brand?

One of the most critical barriers to success is understanding what a brand is and what a brand is NOT. I get this question all the time. Let me tell you what a brand is NOT: A brand is NOT a name, logo, tag-line, package design or the product itself. I call these elements:

Window-dressing your brand. A brand is simply an EMOTIONAL IDENTITY that differentiates products, services and people.

As a former marketing executive at global multi-billion dollar consumer products companies like Nabisco, Kraft Foods, Cadbury and Godiva, I successfully crafted emotional identities for some of the world’s most iconic brands. Over the course of 25 years, a frequent challenge I faced was communicating the role a brand played in consumer’s lives…in other words its Core Value. To solve this problem, I developed a process to label that brand’s Core Value using just ‘One Word’. This helps consumers understand what they are actually buying.

Each week during this series, I will select a brand I worked on or studied and share it’s ‘One Word Core Value.

So let’s turn to today’s brand clip…PELOTON

It’s no secret that the entire world has been in the midst of a crisis . The coronavirus pandemic has altered life as we know it and in challenging times like these, people’s priorities and values change.

The one value I believe people are craving now more than ever is human connection.

As we’ve been forced to practice social distancing throughout COVID-19, people have come to appreciate how much they miss the human touch. As a species, we have learned to adapt to survive by coming up with creative ways to find social connections, even when they’re not in the same physical space together. Some have hosted birthday parades for their kids, some have used zoom to host Quaran-tinis, dance parties and book clubs…and some even went as far as to purchase a $2,000+ Peloton Bike.

Peloton, which endured a widely mocked holiday ad at the end of 2019 – which we will not get into during this episode – is emerging as a silver lining in 2020 during this new quarantine economy.

The Peloton brand allows you to retain the social aspects of exercising at a gym by CONNECTING to a community of fitness enthusiasts via livestreamed classes, plus a deep library of past classes.

According to John Foley, the CEO of Pelton,

On a recent episode of the podcast “How I Built This – Resilience Edition” with Guy Raz – which I highly recommend – John shared the following about having to pivot in order to continue bringing live-classes, one of the main attractions to Peloton:

“We sent a couple of hundred thousand dollars of hardware and software into a few of our instructor’s homes and set up an ad-hoc television streaming studio. It was fascinating to watch how quickly they were able to get world-class content streaming from a living room of one of our instructors. So yes we did care about the authenticity and the freshness of our content. It’s something that we told our members that they were going to get when they purchased their bike or their treadmill. So we’ve been trying to honor that…and I think it’s really worked….vs. taking a class from two years ago, which are still available and still awesome. There’s something about the conversation you’re able to have and the relevance you’re able to have and the CONNECTION you’re able to bring to our members in their home when you’re talking about what is going on in the world in that moment.”

I want to be clear that I am NOT doing this episode to celebrate Peloton’s explosive growth during a public health crisis…..but rather to focus on the fact that Peloton is using their core value of CONNECTION to service a critical need in our society right now. With fitness clubs across the nation in limbo….the people that are part of the Peloton community need CONNECTION and they are achieving it virtually through FITNESS.

Beyond the pandemic, Peloton’s community features are an excellent way to keep you CONNECTED to others every time you take a class….features such as the Leaderboard, High Fives, Here Now, Following Friends, Video Chatting and their hugely popular Official Peloton Member Page on Facebook where people share milestones, words of encouragement and helpful tips.

The most powerful statement John makes at the end of the “How I Built This – Resilience Edition” episode sums up why Peloton is a brand that knows how to serve their customers well:
“How people are dealing with this, this new world order of COVID and working from home and being isolated is fascinating and an important part of what’s going on…and so to the extent we’re bringing CONNECTION and we’re helping people relate…and we’re understanding and we’re supportive and we’re there for them and in a wild way it feels like Peloton was built for this moment of helping people CONNECT virtually…it’s a really beautiful thing that we’ve experienced.”
So the next time you think about working out with a group of people, remember this:
AND ONE more thing: The name Peloton means: the main field or group of cyclists in a race…..I call that CONNECTION too!
I’m Rich Keller, The CATALYST and see you next time on The CATALYST Effect!

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