What an Ugly PacMan Purse can Teach You About Branding


*image source: PacMan cookie cutters: http://www.suck.uk.com/products/pacmancookiecutters/*

I wouldn’t necessarily consider myself someone who loves purses (or bags.. whatever you want to call them) but I use them (and like them). I’m not going to go totally rogue and just carry my stuff in my pocket… I have too much stuff to carry around (just your basics: wallet, sunglasses, eyeglasses, keys, some motrin, lipstick/lip gloss, gum, mint, etc.).

I was watching the T.V. show Rehab Addict with Nicole Curtis (she’s pretty amazing) and she was showing how she literally just carries her debit card & credit cards wrapped with a rubber band in her pocket.

No purse.

Kind of makes sense with what she does but I can’t see myself going that route (and I’m hardly doing the kind of labor she does).

I might buy one… maybe two, nice purses a year. If that.

I haven’t bought one since last fall, so clearly this past year I only purchased one (and I’m still using it… very classic looking Kate Spade bag). My purses last longer since I work at home. I’m not shlepping them in and out of the car all day so there’s much less wear and tear (although I’m probably due to replace this one soon. Even though I love it… the handles are getting a little rough around the edges).

So what on earth does an Ugly PacMan purse have to do with branding?


My friend texted me this picture a couple weeks ago (had to search Google for this image, which took me to eBay interestingly enough. Sorry, couldn’t find a bigger image). COACH also needs some help with their website because when I searched the term ‘PacMan’ on their website it took me to a page to opt-in to get info. on this ‘collection’. After opt-ing in I still couldn’t find the collection. So not only do their bags need help, so does their website:

PacMan purse
Coach Purse – Limited Edition *image is by COACH – I have no rights to this image*







I’ll be the first to admit that I’m no fashionista.

I like nice clothes, but they don’t excite me. I’d rather spend money on an experience than an expensive pair of jeans or shoes (zero judgement if you love expensive jeans or shoes…. simply not my cup of tea). Or a piece of software if it can help me grow my business (when I think about a $200 pair of jeans I think “that’s two 90 minute massages!”… I’d rather have the massage).

I’m more inclined to spend money on things that will last longer and ideally not be outdated next year (good shoes fall into that category, but I hate wearing heals… a nice coat also falls into this category).

Back to the ugly PacMan purse.

Right after my friend texted me this image she followed up with a link to an article on Huffington Post about how COACH has lost their way. You can read about that ‘tacky chaos’ here.

COACH bags were synonymous with class, style, and elegance.

Keep in mind these also are not inexpensive bags (although I’m sure in some circles these are considered cheap… but that’s for another conversation, on someone else’s blog).

I was kind of excited when my friend texted me with this purse and her clear disdain for the style because I was wondering if I was really that out of touch with style (I might be… and that’s O.K. too). I would get these emails from them and think “who is buying this crap?”

Take a look at the image below… this is current on their website (I also own no rights to this image):

ugly coach purse

A dinosaur?


Oh… and see that wooden dinosaur in the background?

It literally comes with the purse.

Are you EFFING kidding me?

I almost get the Disney purses (and not just because I love Disney)… but I still wouldn’t buy one.

When I go to the COACH website, I can still see they make some classic nice bags… but I never get emails about them. I also tried searching ‘Dinoasuar’ to get a price for that little bag you see in the image above and was taken to a page for this ‘Rexy’ collection (this purse wasn’t on that page, again… the website needs help). The models look like they’re 12 (now I’m just being snarky, I know) and they’re wearing sweaters with dinosaurs (maybe they’re trying to get into the ‘ugly sweater’ niche?).

I would be super curious to know how this style and marketing around these brands is working.

Maybe COACH is shifting it’s core branding and targeting an entirely different audience (or at least I hope so).

The problem is that it feels more like they’re grasping… not like this was a well thought out plan or strategy.

This is what you need to think about with your brand.

Is it clear what you do and who you’re talking to?

I know I haven’t been very clear in my branding and messaging. Obviously I talk about WordPress… but beyond that it hasn’t been really clear what I do. That’s not always been the case, but the last couple of years I’ve been transitioning and working on getting clearer.

Which is why I knew I needed a cleaner website (coming later this week), very clear messaging about what I do, who I work with and what my company is about.

If you missed last weeks podcast episode with Dustin Stout of Warfare Plugins, it’s worth listening to. Dustin explained how he creates content and who he’s creating it for. He’s clear on what he does and who he works with.

Getting clear on this stuff isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity. No matter how long it takes you, keep working through it (I can guarantee you’ll get more clear through the doing than ‘planning’. This post is a perfect example. I knew I wanted to use this ugly PacMan purse  for a blog post, I just didn’t know what direction it would take. As I began to write I got more clear).

Don’t get caught up in too many details if it’s just going to slow you down.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Don’t get caught up in too many details if it’s just going to slow you down.” quote=”Don’t get caught up in too many details if it’s just going to slow you down.” theme=”style6″]

There are lots of exercises on doing all this stuff (brand messaging, target audience, etc.), but I can guarantee you’ll get more data and clarity by simply doing: creating and having conversations (with people who are in your audience or who you feel are your audience).

Unless you’re a designer or have experience in this area, it can feel a little overwhelming.

Keep it simple.

Share your journey, talk to your subscribers, have conversations on social media, and measure what’s working (look at your analytics, your social insights on the platforms you use, etc.).

Allow yourself some time to do this research and ‘digging’. Don’t worry if it leads you down a rabbit hole. Those rabbit holes can be invaluable if they help you gain clarity.

Most of all, don’t try to be everything to everyone (I still don’t know who COACH is trying to reach with some of these bags).

It’s O.K. to stick with what works.

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  1. Good Morning Kim,

    I really enjoyed this post it’s as if you were talking to me. That has always been one of my struggles. I definitely need to work on my branding and messaging. This is something I’ve always neglected in the past. (guess that is why I haven’t had much success)

    I need to sit down and think about who my target audience is rather than trying to talk to everyone. I have known this for a while, but whenever I try to take the time to do this, I always find myself too busy.

    Thanks for the friendly reminder. By the way, I’m not into purses either and I am planning on a Disney World vacation with family.

    Have a great day!

    1. Hi Susan,
      I don’t know if this is helpful, but I heard another marketer share something that made a big difference to me when it comes to his target market (his clients seemed to be a very eclectic group of people). He said it was more about the qualities in people (non-judgemental & that they were never satisfied… these were for coaching clients).

      I’ve done the target audience exercises, they’re definitely helpful. What I found was that my target audience was kind of who I was a few years ago (I don’t mean that it’s about me.. haha… this is starting to sound very egocentric).

      Someone who has a business, is making money, but things aren’t progressing the way they want or feel they’re not really doing what they want to be doing. More often than not they want to get out of the time for money trap (ie, services).

      So as an example, since you help WP beginners, what is their biggest pain point? (I would also target people who want to use WP but get that it’s a tool and they don’t need to master it). I’m not sure if you’ve seen it yet, but GoDaddy has an amazing new onboarding for WP sites (they’ve really stepped up their managed WP hosting… I interviewed the head of their WP dept., airing soon).
      You could do some tutorials on that process (it has Beaver Builder lite built into it) and see what resonates with people (and make affiliate sales as well).

      This is what I do when I create content… I think about where I was a few years ago and know I was tired of a lot of the online BS, I wanted people to share the good AND the bad. So I do what I know would have been helpful to me a few years ago.

      More than anything, you just have to create and see what sticks (how’s that for a non-data driven answer?). Yes you can do keyword research, see what other people are doing, etc., but if you start with what interests you and what you think will be helpful you’ll start to get some data and can progress from there.
      Initially that’s what we’re all doing… paying for data – whether it’s through paid traffic or our time!

      Hope that helps!
      (didn’t mean to get so wordy!)
      🙂 Kim

  2. This is definitely helpful, I agree with you there is a lot of stuff out there. I am going to start putting your advice into action. That is a great idea about the Beaver Builder tutorials (I currently use that for clients sites, so I am familiar with it.)

    I look forward to seeing your interview when it comes out.

    Thanks for the tips and advice, it gives me some insight on what type of content to post on my blog.

    1. My pleasure Susan, glad it helped.
      The GoDaddy interview will be in November for sure (probably mid-November).
      Have a great weekend!

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