The Hawaiian Shirt: Supporting or Undermining Your Brand?

Today is National Hawaiian Shirt Day so whip out your tropical button down! You know the one; it has a large tropical print with pops of bright colors. How did Hawaii claim the tropical button down? Though the origins of the iconic shirt go back over one hundred years, many cities around the world could be represented by a bright colored, lightweight shirt. The culture and fashion of Ibiza and Miami definitely call for sunny colors and breathable fabrics. And yet, Hawaii is one of the most recognizable city names for beach destinations. Is this association a positive or negative thing for the iconic destination of Hawaii?

Any good business seeks to provide goods and services that are undeniably distinguishable from its competitors. So what happens when your brand name, the name you worked (and paid) for, no longer represents a unique item or category of products? Have you ever heard someone say ChapStick and yet, they pull out a lip balm from a different brand from their bag? In reality, there is a completely different production process, list of ingredients, country of origin, price bracket, and claims from the lip balm or salve they are actually using. In this way, the use of the word ChapStick no longer represents the company; it represents a product. The brand’s name is colloquially interchangeable with any old lip balm, regardless of the price point of the item. In this way, you do not have to purchase a lip balm from ChapStick to own and use a “ChapStick.” Not only is it a huge pet peeve of mine, misusing a brand name is undermining the brand identity of the particular company whose name is being used incorrectly. 

Another example of this dangerous phenomenon is the use of the brand name Kleenex. If you use this particular brand’s name to represent any tissue, you do not need to actually purchase a box of tissues from Kleenex to use a “Kleenex.”

So, is wearing any Hawaiian shirt the equivalent of physically being in any of the stunning islands of Hawaii and purchasing a tropical shirt to wear on vacation? Probably not. I’m sure that wearing a Hawaiian shirt in the midst of winter in Switzerland does not magically transport you to the blue waters of Hawaii, though it could serve as a nod to the islands. Perhaps wearing the aquatic animal themed top will inspire you to book a trip to the busy beaches of Hawaii.

There is a delicate balance between your line of products being interchangeable with that of your competitors and being easily identifiable. Contact Heritage Writing Co. to create and nourish a lasting brand identity. 

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