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Be a Branding Genius Like American Pickers’ Mike Wolfe

by on March 17, 2014

How would you like to debut your brand to 3.1 million people?  That would be pretty amazing right?  Well, that is exactly what Mike Wolfe did in 2010, when his show, American Pickers debuted on the History Channel making it the highest rated debut since 2007.  This didn’t “just happen”.  When you dissect it, Mike Wolfe is a Branding Genius and you can learn from his success.

Image courtesy of the Mike Wolfe American Picker Facebook Page

Image courtesy of the Mike Wolfe American Picker Facebook Page

Now, before getting to Mike’s genius, let’s be clear what a brand is.  Far too many people think a brand is a logo.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  There are a number of definitions for brand, but I think that Seth Godin’s best captures it:  “A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.”   Now that we are all on the same page, let’s break down what Mike did to create a brand that has resulted in growing his business and brand recognition that we all dream of!

1. Leadership and Vision

Before you can establish a great brand, you need someone who has a great vision.  On top of that however, you need a leader who can execute on that vision. (Click to Tweet)

Mike is definitely “that” person.  His business Antique Archeology has a different take on antiques.  In effect, he is creating and curating his own story all the way from the experience in-store to going out on the road with sidekick Frank Fritz to collect “rusty gold”.  He is unearthing great finds.  It truly is archeology.

 2.  Differentiation

In 2010 when American Pickers debuted, there were no other shows like it. In fact, Mike understands differentiation more than most.  As a result, it was important to have his on-site in-store person to be outside the expected norm.  Danielle definitely fits that bill.  Tattoo-Clad, ring adorned and burlesque-dancing Danielle is definitely not what you would expect at a traditional antique’s store. (Click to Tweet)

In addition to Danielle being an unexpected twist, Mike’s take on going antiquing is truly different.  Crawling through barns, garages, junk heaps and even junk yards, he is willing to go where no man has gone before on TV.  His cringe-worthy approach made us all think twice about the junk we see and what it might be worth.

Image courtesy of the Mike Wolfe American Pickers Facebook Page

Image courtesy of the Mike Wolfe American Pickers Facebook Page

And of course I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that his approach has definitely converted many men to rethink antiquing trips with their wives.  No longer is it about fancy or precious items that are to be looked at.  No, Mike has created a whole new focus by getting junk-drunk with “mantiques”.

3.  Consistency

For brands to be really successful communicating their brand value, consistency across all channels is essential.

Mike is using seven different channels:  TV, Website and of course social:  Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest and ebay.  Across all these channels, there is a high level of consistency with colour, themes and content.  Mike continues to flawlessly curate stories.   You know when you are looking at a Mike Wolfe asset.  His touch and likeness are everywhere.  Everything you see you can tie back to Mike.  He stays true to his area of expertise and interest.

4.  Passion

Hand-in-hand with consistency is passion.  Mike has a passion for what he does. You can see it and feel it.  He specializes in a few areas, including bikes – both man powered and engine powered.  For the most part this is a real man’s passion.  Engines, testosterone and finding the ‘honey-hole” of picks – that is Mike Wolfe and the American Picker brand.

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