As a website, Babybjorn.com is highly functional, easy to navigate, and perfectly captures the voice and aesthetic of both BabyBjörn products and the BabyBjörn consumer. Translated perfectly to the web, this is the kind of successful branding that has gotten BabyBjörn featured on the Academy Awards. And while the BabyBjörn site won’t dispel the neo-Yuppie associations often prescribed the brand, why should it? There are a hundred infant carriers similar to the BabyBjörn, many for a fraction of the cost and probably, from a cost-benefit standpoint, just as functional. But you won’t look this cool.
But then the BabyBjörn brand is about more than just providing a functional tool for modern baby rearing. The brand has become a way through which parents can define themselves—a way they can say not just “I’m a parent” but “I’m a BabyBjörn parent.”
The key to becoming one of these brands is far more complex than just looking cool. Parents with the kind of disposable income required to “brand” their respective parenthoods with products such as BabyBjörn and Maclaren (strollers) need to be given justifiable reasons beyond “it’s cool.” Brands such as BabyBjörn need to offer parents speaking points on the real-world, practical advantages of their products. They need to offer ostensibility.
BabyBjörn knows this. Beneath the rotating photos of H&M-like models in the latest Björns rests a “Here’s what medical experts have to say” section. The Babysitter Balance microsite features a similar section. This messaging is everywhere on the site.
Beyond its website, BabyBjörn (like Maclaren) is fascinating considering how the brand’s strength and the fanaticism involved in parenting collide to create both severe brand championship and brand backlash. In this respect, the BabyBjörn brand is much like Apple. A good example of this is the brand-organized community BabyBjörn Believers, where parents are brought together because their “experience could have a significant impact on families of young children.” As brand champions, BabyBjörn Believers (or just unorganized, outspoken BabyBjörn fans) are an irreplaceable marketing tool for the brand—the ultimate, proactive “but don’t take our word for it” testimonials.
At the same time, such eager brand champions actually serve to irritate potential customers with what’s perceived as overzealous brand proselytizing. This group, just as fanatic about parenting, finds such zeal off-putting partly because many parents bristle at being told what to do and partly because such a group has an actual name, like a cult.
Read the Babybjornbelievers.com response to the “I'm a BabyBjörn Believer…now what?” section, and one understands why harboring a dislike for the brand has more to do with the brand’s representatives than with the products: “…it’s time to spread the word about the BabyBjörn line of safe, quality products.” Read the “Who are BabyBjörn believers?” section, and one just might become one of them: “James is the epitome of the modern man. Despite the demands of his job, his family is his first priority. He not only reads reviews on the latest technology gadgets, but also goes online to scout out safe and innovative children’s products. As a walking encyclopedia on such topics as potty training, teething and infant sleeping habits, James happily shares his parenting knowledge.”
For James and Björn, the brand is all about family.