It looks like Specialized, one of the bike industry’s leading players, has made an interesting decision about how it uses its distinctive branding.
Specialized are a big name in bikes and they’re very proud of their brand. Most of their bikes have it splashed large on the downtube, as you’d expect from such a trusted marque.
But I was in for a surprise when I first saw one of their new ‘Globe‘ hybrid models. The word ‘Globe’ has been treated almost as a brand in itself, and occupies prime position on the bike’s shiny black downtube. The word ‘Specialized cannot be seen, until you notice its decidedly understated presence on some components, and the ‘S’ logo on the forks and head tube. I didn’t even realise this bike was a Specialized until the second time I saw it.
The ‘Globe’ range of bikes represents the kind of bikes Specialized are looking to sell to ‘ordinary’ customers – often customers who don’t see themselves as experienced or expert cyclists.
Maybe they’ve realised that the very word ‘Specialized’, while commanding respect among those in the know, is a little off-putting to those looking for a regular bike to do a regular job.
“Would you like to buy this Specialized bicycle?”
“No thanks – I’m looking for an ordinary one…”
I suppose it’s a little like the way that Neilson, the company I work for, has dropped its use of the strapline “The active holiday experts”. Presenting yourself as “expert” or “specialised” is great until you realise that some customers are put off by that kind of language.
The interesting challenge for Specialized is that the guilty word in question is their own name.