The other day I went on John Deere’s website to get my 2 year old son a John Deere cap to replace the toddler-sized one he’d outgrown. While there, I also bought the little fellow a John Deere Toy Lawn Trimmer, seriously considered a John Deere Toy mower, and would have probably bought him a really cool motorized 6 Volt Utility Tractor with Loader (click here to get a look at this thing and tell me it’s not the coolest thing ever!) Fortunately, Mrs. Dr. Burt confiscated the credit card before these impulse buys got the best of me.
John Deere’s real value, it’s real capital, it’s real “green,” is in the power of it’s brand. When Mr. Deere founded the company, he based everything he did on the guiding principle, “I will not put my name on anything that does not have in it the best that is in me.” This commitment to excellence has lasted well over 100 years! It has VALUE because it connects with the customer, the customer believes it, trusts the brand, and is willing to pay a premium for it. John Deere is a brand we can bank on.
This brand loyalty isn’t just true for the heavy equipment which makes up their core product offering, but for any and all ancillary products loyal customers can purchase with the John Deere name on them. John Deere doesn’t make toy trimmers or caps or any of those items. Toy companies and apparel companies and other vendors line up outside John Deere’s doors and pay a hefty licensing fee for the use of the John Deere logo and color scheme, which they’ll then use to market a line of products using the John Deere name, for which John Deere will receive a generous royalty. The hefty horsepower of the brand lets John Deere make money on the front end with the licensing fees and on the back end with royalties. John Deere wins, the merchandisers win, and of course, the customers win because we’re all part of a value-for-value brand experience.
J. Paul Getty, one of the first “celebrity millionaires,” was often asked for a formula for getting rich. He replied, “Rise early, work hard, and strike oil!” If you build a solid brand, it’s better than striking oil! The residuals are incredible, the passive income is there, and you don’t have to get your hands dirty or deal with the EPA!