How Casper made the best brand in a crowded space

For a company that few of us have actually used and none of us had heard of two years ago, Casper has an incredibly strong brand.

That’s why you often see enthusiastic tweets about Casper:

…and seldom see mention of the other 6 similar companies.

Here are 3 ways that Casper’s brand is so effective:

“Casper” has personality because it’s a person’s name. Moreover, it reminds me of a character’s name. Moreover, that character is a cute ghost. And Casper got all this without paying a penny in licensing fees.

“Casper” isn’t bland (“Bed in a Box”) or vague (“Keetsa”). And it doesn’t sound like the product of a corporation. Casper’s name reminds me of the days when Google emerged so brilliantly amidst a sea of Infoseek and Excite. I also really like the name “Tuft & Needle”; I’m a big fan of the ___ & ___ template, and my kids tech class is called Ada & Leo.

Seems like a good ad budget helps explain the product; without this it might be hard for us all to know that Casper equals “mattress”.

I always note when a startup has a name change, because the contrast is very revealing. The trend seems to be away from fiddly names like “Weebo Date” and towards evocative, concrete ones like “Mingle”. At the same time, names like “Oscar” and “Casper” seem to achieve a higher level of identity than if their companies had used short-verb-or-adjective names like “Heal” or “Slumber”. I think “Casper” is best name in its crowd; its only weakness is that it does nothing, alone, to evoke the product category.

I think when you say “a mattress”, the product and company generate a space in my mind that is superior to that created by the plural “mattresses”.

It also brings me way closer to imagining getting one. Before Casper, buying another shipped mattress was a distant, vague and worrisome thought. Since, I’ve thought many times, very briefly, almost subconsciously, “should I buy a Casper?”

I’ve been aware for years that there are shippable mattresses made by Tuft & Needle, but that sounds more like a headache to me, on a subconscious level, than an opportunity. The paradox of choice means options are painful; but even more important is the simpler identity that a single product communicates. A Casper mattress is “a Casper” in a way that a Tuft & Needle mattress is not “a Tuft & Needle”.

It doesn’t work for every brand, but having native ads performed by podcast hosts works great for a quirky product like a mattress in a box. The story is a fundamental part of the product: you can order the mattress and it’ll just come in a box; it will expand itself and you’ll enjoy watching; you can return it painlessly; returns are unconditional. But that means the story needs to be communicated, and audio is the perfect format for that.

Not to mention the effect of reps on exposure.

It’s also meaningful that the times podcasters do a Casper spot, they seem to like the brand, unlike all the times they subtly distance themselves and emphasize to the listener that they don’t like having to do this crap. Since it’s more appropriate for podcast ads than most advertisers, hosts enjoy reading these ads much more.

They also seem to be quite brief. I don’t know if Casper is responsible for that at all, but they are far less repetetive and annoying than, say, or 99 Designs or Toptal. Maybe this quality of ad suggests to me that Casper understands product needs in general?

Independent programmer, chatterbox.

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