What do these three products have in common?

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Adam Bahret


It is a very conscious decision to have Reliability be a part of your products brand.

What conversations with marketing and the leadership has occurred for your next product development program?  Was there a conscious decision to place your product in a certain range of reliability?

Too many times it’s a discussion that happens as the product is reaching it’s Beta stage of development, “Let’s measure it’s reliability and see where it’s at and if we need to improve it”.  You can measure reliability that late in the game but you have little opportunity to change it.  So what if it is far lower than the product target market expects?  What if it is far overbuilt and millions of dollars of cost savings was missed in this first generation of the design?  It happens this way more than not.

I’m not advocating to create a perfectly reliable product.  That would be a mistake in most situations.  I’m advocating that the team (the whole team, marketing, sales, executive leadership) set a very specific reliability goal for the product the same way one is set for features, cost point, and time to market, in the concept phase.

Here are a few products that have built their brand on reliability.  What is your gut reaction when you hear these brands?  Personally I found that I have many of these products, five of the eight.  Our Singer sewing machine from 1939 is still used.  It’s more robust then our new white plastic one from the department store.  I recently used it to make changes to our boat cover.  I choose the 80 year old machine over the 2 year old machine because I was more confident it could take the high forces and rough handling doing such thick canvas.

I felt like a fairy god mother who got a bum assignment to fit a blue dress for a Rhinoceros.


Here are a few products that have built their brand on being “Bulletproof”

Singer Sewing Machines

If there’s one product that embodies durability, reliability, and just plain ability, it’s the Singer Sewing Machine. Tennessee-based Singer has been churning out the devices since 1851 – a stunning 162 years – for both home tailors and industrial operations. Odds are, you own one yourself. The 1950’s model is still the “go-to” machine over other newer brands for modern day quilters.

KitchenAid Stand Mixers

If you know baking – you know that Kitchen Aid Stand Mixers have always been the gold standard, no matter how much space they take up on your kitchen counter.

Sturdy and stable (unlike hand mixers), the appliances were introudced in 1919 and haven’t changed dramatically since the Great Depression – even the attachments of the era still work. The 1980s saw a huge bump in sales, many of which are still running today.

Navy Pea Coats

Retailers have sold cheap copies for decades, but there’s only one real pea coat: the woolen, slightly stiff, double-breasted mammoth of a jacket worn by sailors around the world since – no lie – the early 1700s.

If you’re lucky enough to own an authentic military-issue pea coat, you’ve probably passed it down to your kids and grandkids. There are two reasons for this: A) it never goes out of style, and B) dang, that thing is warm.

Electrolux Vacuum Cleaners

For pure vacuuming power, there was Electrolux and then there was everybody else.

The Swedish company’s canister cleaners, many of which still work today, were immensely popular in the U.S. during the 1960s. Why? Well, they weighed less than competing vacuums and were legendarily excellent at sucking. In fact, as one 1960s UK ad put it, “Nothing sucks like an Electrolux.”

JanSport Backpacks

Half school supply, half indestructible lifestyle carry-all, there’s a good chance your JanSport backpack has far outlasted your formal education. Introduced in 1967, the compartment-style carriers seamlessly transitioned to hiking packs, diaper bags, or briefcases, depending on your needs and stage in life.

And if it’s a little worse for the wear these days? No worries – JanSport still makes good on its pledge to any bag will be repaired or replaced, no questions asked.

Corningware Dishes

If you didn’t drop it during the Carter administration, you probably have a Corningware dish sitting in your kitchen cabinet right now.

First produced in 1958, the glass-ceramic cookware worked on every part of the stove, from burners to broiler. Unlike other dishes, they were pretty enough to be used for serving, as well – especially if you nabbed the iconic Blue Cornflower design.

Boots from L.L. Bean, Dr. Martens, or Frye

Footwear from L.L. Bean founded in 1912 produces the iconic boots that are known for durability and comfort.   Good boots aren’t just about convenience.  If you are a serious outdoorsman or recreational hiker the consequences of failed footwear can be pretty serious.

Lodge Cast Iron Pans

Sure, your Teflon-coated aluminum pan with the molded stay-cool handle is nice – but for cookware that will outlast you, your relatives, and most modern societies, you have to go cast-iron.

The consummately heavy pans aren’t just durable – they actually impart flavor and iron into the foods they cook. Lodge in business since 1896, remains the premier company for the skillets.

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