As I finished my morning run today, I lifted my wrist to stop the app on my watch. Although this is something I’ve done hundreds of times, today I noticed something I hadn’t before – the brand logo on the cuff of my jacket.
It happens to be a Starter jacket.
I chuckled to myself, because this triggered a flashback to my teenage years. In the 90’s, Starter jackets were all the rage, because they were popular in hip hop culture and among celebrities. They were so coveted that kids across the U.S. were getting robbed – many even killed – for them. Google “starter jacket murders” for the extensive list.
I was a big fan of the rap group N.W.A., and they infamously wore all-black Raiders Starter jackets. I begged my parents for one of these jackets, and they repeatedly said no.
It seemed that all of the cool kids in school had a Starter jacket, and I wanted to be in that group. Not only was the $200 price tag a major deterrent for my parents, but the nightly news, filled with stories of kids being killed for these jackets certainly did not help my case.
Somehow, I don’t remember how or why exactly, but they gave in and bought me one. Or maybe a grandparent bought it for me. Either way, I was ecstatic! But my joy was short-lived.
My parents gave me one rule: do not wear the Starter jacket to school.
Of course, I immediately broke that rule. I stuffed the jacket in my backpack so they wouldn’t see me leave the house with it on, then I switched coats as soon as I got on the bus.
Then one day in an after school class, I got hot and took off the jacket. I left it in my chair when I went to the restroom. When I came back, it was gone. I never saw it again.
I was sad and embarrassed. My parents were pissed, but they were also probably relieved, because at least now I wasn’t walking around wearing a murder magnet.
It’s amazing how the meaning of the brand has changed for me over these past 25 years. Back then, I wanted a Starter jacket (no knock-offs would suffice) because I wanted significance.
But today, I wear my running jacket because of it’s utility. Truth be told, I didn’t even consciously pay attention to the brand name when I bought it. I think I bought the jacket several years ago at Walmart, because I needed something to keep me warm and dry on my cold, rainy runs. I definitely didn’t pay $200 for it either; probably less than $15.
According to renowned coach and motivational speaker, Tony Robbins, there are 6 core human needs that shape our behavior:
We are all driven by these needs at different times in our lives. One of two of these needs are your main motivators.
They can seem contradictory. For example, I love adventure travel because I find the uncertainty/variety to be exhilarating. But I’m also loyal to one particular airline, because of the certainty – the consistency, predictability, and comfort – that I experience with that brand.
My teenage self wanted a Starter jacket for significance.
My adult self coincidentally chose the same brand jacket, but this time for certainty (its usefulness and reliability).
Looking at the list above, why are you loyal to certain brands or behaviors? If you’re a business owner, why do consumers choose your brand?