Brands for life - Kickers and Osh Kosh
I should start by saying that I have never been more trendy than I was at two, a toddler fashioned in the 70s style of designer parents.
Things have gone radically downhill since, but I cling to these memories and try to make sense of them in my 30-something (well ok, getting dangerously close to 40-something) life.
I rediscovered Kickers for the first time since university last year. And I haven't stopped smiling since.
Those green and red buttons that tell you which shoe is for which foot (still invaluable to me, green is right and red is left).
The chunky sole, prominent white stitching, industrial laces. Textures of my youth, reassuring in my middle age.
I love my Kickers and, I suspect, always will.
Life has been tougher for their erstwhile companion, Osh Kosh dungarees. So cute and cuddly as a tott, they never quite worked for me later in life.
I couldn’t even pull them off as a skinny teenager when they made their big comeback in the late 80s.
Now, I suspect the best I can hope for in “dungers” is country hick chic, accessorised with a dusty beer and some chewing tobacco (apologies for the stereotype, I genuinely do strive for this look).
The truth of it is that I’m not brave enough to wear them. But I admire anyone who does.
And I still buy them, by the dozen, as perfect presents for new-born babies of family and friends. Paired with size 0 Kickers in red, I can think of no better introduction to the world.
I guess, for me, that’s what “brands for life” are all about. They are the rocks on which we build our lives; dreams of the future, memories of the past.
What brands are sometimes slow to recognise is the power of their biggest advocates to influence would-be purchasers.
In my own small way, I have done my bit for Kickers and Osh Kosh. I’m no catalogue model, but I am a walking, talking and, crucially, authentic voice. And that’s probably worth a few quid in sales.
But it could be worth a lot more, if nurtured and harvested in the right way.
Nokia has started to realise this and recently gave away 585 Lumia phones to carefully selected super fans, who in turn contributed 1200 pieces of valuable brand content. More than a fair trade for Nokia, I’d argue.
I’m not angling for freebies (well, not much). I’m just trying to make the point that the relationship between brand and individual can be incredibly powerful in both directions.
So who wins - Kickers or Osh Kosh?
I was delighted to discover that there is an actual answer to this question… Osh Kosh wins 7-0, FC Osh Kosh that is, playing against the Green Bay Kickers in Division 1 of the Northern Wisconsin Soccer League.
For me, it’s a much closer contest than that. I give the victory to Kickers on penalties, largely because I can still wear them without scaring my friends.
We'd love to hear what your "brands for life" are. Please join the conversation below or use #brandsforlife @ImaginationLabs.