Screenshot of Tory Burch accessories

Today we’re going to talk about one of my personal pet peeves as a brand marketer: the assertion that functionality is what truly wins customers. Or, more simply, that consumers don’t judge a book by its cover.

One would have thought that after Apple came in and crushed the personal computer market that the proponents of the ‘function over form’ argument would have been silenced for good. However, this line of thought seems to have no expiration date. Every time I see a commercial from a company-that-shall-not-be-named comparing its products side by side with Apple products, I can’t help but roll my eyes a little.

As a big believer in the power of branding, I just can’t understand how said company’s ad team doesn’t get that listing features will never–ever–win the consumer’s heart. If function were really what mattered most, we simply would not have pairs of shoes that cost $1,000 simply because the sole is a certain color.

Now that that’s out on the table, let’s talk about a company that has done a great job of overcoming the urge to emphasize functionality over all else. I have considered making a purchase from Fitbit in the past, but I’ve never been able to get beyond their device’s design. Even as a woman who works in a fairly casual office environment, I just can’t see myself wearing a rubbery athletic device in my wrist all the time (and wearing it only on certain days with certain outfits defeats the ‘always on’ purpose).

Image of Fitbit Flex

So imagine my delight when I wandered over to Fitbit’s website recently and discovered that they had acknowledged and addressed my purchasing objection! In addition to the standard wristbands, I saw that dressier gold accessories are now available from American lifestyle brand Tory Burch. The more stylish bracelet and pendent are, admittedly, pricier alternatives. But I’ve always found that something cheap you buy and then never wear is a deceptively bad investment.

Tory Burch Fitbit Pendant Image via The Verge

There’s a great lesson here for established small business owners, as well as entrepreneurs just starting out: be confident in your product, but not so proud that you can’t anticipate or respond to objections.

No matter how new, exciting, or attractive your offering, there will always be a barrier that prevents some segment if your audience from ultimately buying it. The best way to get around this and further grow your business is to be flexible and creative when it comes to your offerings. How can you make changes or additions that open your business up to a new market segment, without alienating the customers you already have?

Fitbit has done a great job with this. They have maintained their current products and prices, while offering additional options to address the concerns of an important demographic. And that final point is an important one; you will never appeal to everyone, and if you try to then your brand will become meaningless. So make sure that when you do decide to make changes or extend your product line that the audience you are targeting aligns with both your brand and your business goals.

What products or services have you noticed that have made adjustments like these? Have you done this for your own business? Tell us about it in the comments!

About the Author: Sarah Matista is the Content Marketing Manager at Webs, where she also manages marketing for Pagemodo – a suite of social media tools. Loves marketing, small businesses, and whales. Get more from Sarah on the Webs Blog and Google+.

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