top of page

One-hit wonders

Positioning is challenging. Brands often miss the mark entirely because of short attention spans, an ever-growing amount of information, and an even greater number of choices available. Therefore, it still haunts me that Colgate launched products that were polar opposites of the products that made them.

The launch of Colgate Frozen Dinner Entrees in 1928 made many heads turn, but all for the wrong reasons. According to my understanding, the goal was to capture the experience of eating and brushing throughout its entirety. However, was the idea to promote Colgate food as a protective agent for teeth or was it a bundling deal where you first eat and somehow that reminds you to establish a good routine before bedtime? It's impossible to tell.

The core product brings energy, focus, and attention to detail that is impossible with a lot of other products that at some point intertwine. Hence, to grow on more than one product, the company must focus on carefully designed products, presented to the audience tactfully.

Other brands, unlike Colgate, have perfected a single product that has become an unforgettable part of their brand. First, let's talk about the last time you bought running shoes, which is pretty standard. The shoes themselves may look great, but it's easy to get lost in the branding - from enlarged logos with monochrome stripes to fluorescent soles. It is at that point that the minimalist in all of us wishes that we had a shoe that only did one thing - fit the purpose of our use without any additional frills. Then, enter - Allbirds. It was extremely difficult for somebody like Tim Brown, the founder and former footballer, to find a brand that designs simple running shoes. Therefore, throughout the design process, they created a minimal, on-point offering, and also made the shoe a sustainable choice as it was made from natural materials, and packaged in a way that preserves the environment. I see this as a double win for the business since the company focuses on just two things - easy to differentiate products and small carbon footprints. The products appealed to an emerging class of consumers who were increasingly concerned about the environment, the economy, and society.

With only one product - the divisive clogs - no other brand has enjoyed such success within the shoe industry like Crocs. It wouldn't be crazy if these kinda-ugly, but incredibly comfortable, foam clogs didn't sell out so quickly. With a variety of clogs to choose from, Crocs really does offer you more than just unique designs. Their iconic product provides unbeatable durability, comfort and a sustainable design. Crocs shoes have been sold in excess of 720 million pairs since 2002, and the footwear giant shows no signs of slowing down. The sky really is the limit for this business.

Casper is another company that puts comfort first. In the mattress industry, there wasn't much brand loyalty, and consumer experience was never taken into account either. The company's single-core product value proposition was mattress, pillow, and sheet products designed to improve a consumer's life through improved sleeping habits and a convenient purchase process. In addition, the brand's products are recycled or donated to the needy when they are no longer useful. Simply, this one product alone has changed the mattress industry forever.

Watching a movie on Netflix while enjoying a bowl of Act-2 on a Friday evening from the comfort of the bed. It is everyone's best attempt to imitate the large tubs of popcorn we stuff in our faces during movies, regardless of what they are. A great product, an easy recipe in a unique microwaveable bag, and a very accessible and affordable product have made these two words synonymous. By combining technology and food science, they produced the best tasting popcorn with the world's favourite flavour - butter. A product of this nature alone has benefited the brand immensely. This is the companion of all those moments we document in our diaries.

Speaking of diaries, one brand does writing stationery so well. All of us have one or two diaries we love the look of but never use, yet preserve. Moleskines desire for more was met with the introduction of the original black notebook, which played a key part in building the legendary brand. As a result of the post-Cold War era when freedom and adventure lay ahead, they created the first Moleskine notebooks which flew off the shelves and remain the company's best-seller even today. With Moleskine, you can expect intelligence, flair, and a great deal of attention to detail.

All of these brands share a common motivation - the aspiration and inspiration to create something that resonates with their consumers. Sticking to what they do best and letting others bring on new product lines has proved to be a smart move for these brands. They are offering reliability and quality based on a single product concept, and thus taking repetition to an entirely new level. It is true that one-hit wonders have a terrible reputation, but their effect remains, just as the photo of maggi noodles may tempt you to have a bowl.

Or as Netflix's CEO, Reed Hastings says -

“I learned the value of focus. I learned it is better to do one product well than two products in a mediocre way.”


Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page