The trail of clown-faced shopping bags

Branding Insights
One of a series by John Paulo Cardoso, Spyder Works Chief Creative Officer & Founder


As a young boy and a new comer to Canada living south of Mirvish Village, I remember following the trail of shoppers coming down Markham Street with their clown faced shopping bags, and was lead to the ultimate Toronto shopping experience – Honest Ed’s. Honest Ed’s featured value priced products and merchandize in a kitschy and nostalgic circus theme with a huge sign encompassing an entire city block made up of about 23,000 light bulbs and catchy slogans such as, “Come in and get lost!” and “Only the floors are crooked!” The inside of the store reminds us of a time before the giant big-box stores moved in, with its vintage bargain-basement type feel. The retailer gained fame for its marketing stunts, including loss leader specials, free turkey giveaways before holidays and extravagant yearly street parties for founder, Ed Mirvish’s, birthday.

After 63 years, Honest Ed’s is more than a store; it’s a well established and successful brand. Its architecture brings together vision, voice and benefits that together provide the inspiration and personality of a lasting brand. That is why, year’s later, Honest Ed’s remains memorable, instantly recognizable and has an emotional community-based appeal and relevance.

Successful brands are unique and beyond compare; they are instantly recognizable and build an emotional connection with their customers. A great brand should be distinct, exude personality and resonate loudly with a lucrative set of customers. Simply put, brand is the personification of your product or service, enabling customers to engage and build a relationship with it.

Are your customers still following a trail back to you decades later? If not, make 2012 your first step in building a lasting brand experience to delight your customers.

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