In his own image

Watching Sixty Minutes, saw the story of Davy Hughes - the owner of Swazi clothing of Levin. Turnover 10 million (apparently). He likes to hunt and eloquently argues why that's o.k. - he has quite a line of chat. The whole story was tinged with weirdness though. Mr Hughes has been tarred liberally by the brush of narcissism. Watching him trotting around the (Tararuas?) in a kilt with an eighteenth century musket was all just a little cringe inducing. But the thing that struck me most was the video footage of him killing an Alaskan Grizzly bear. The bear ambles into frame, minding its own business - being a bear (whose diet is usually salmon and berries, not people). With the animal passing by the great white hunter takes a shot from a few feet, felling the bear. Not very noble.

I might have simply considered him an eccentric - we need more eccentrics. I might have had I not recently watched Werner Herzog's movie Grizzly man. In the extras was a documentary that showed another truth about the licensed hunt. I recommend you watch it for yourself.

Hughes seems like an engaging chap but he's engaged in activities that I don't think much of. But good for him he seems to be enjoying himself and I agree that meat and fish isn't something that magically appears in the supermarket and I like nothing better than a bloody great big steak. Not so keen on stuffed animal trophies though.

I admire his stance on making his product in New Zealand. He's lucky to have a powerful brand story that means his Swazi range isn't necessarily interchangeable with another brand. His market is a specialised niche that likes his posturing because it probably mirrors their own. Huntin', fishin' shootin mooks.

Ben Kepes quoted Hughes :

“We all know that brands live in peoples minds. When you first enter the market the brand lives entirely in YOUR mind. In its infancy you get to shape it, create behavioural guidelines, help mold character…and then if you have done a good job, it is taken from you. Your customer wrests ownership in the brand. You become the guardian. That is success.”

Well put.

Other thoughts (expressed to blogger Tony)

His business tips were:

1. It's never too late to talk things over.

2. Fire customers who aren't fun.

3. Tell staff they must have 2 possible solutions to every problem they bring to you.

4. Remember there's more to life than business.

5. Customers own the brand.

6. Forget 'passion', focus on 'love'.

7. Treasure your brand & use intellectual property protection.


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