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“Cosmo is the love of the neighborhood!”
When we invited our artist friend, who lives a half mile down the lane, over (at a social distance, of course) we thought we were introducing him to Cosmo for the first time. We were surprised when he said, “Oh! That’s his name! He comes into my studio and watches me paint.” Later, we invited our neighbor who lives up the hill over for a socially distant happy hour and she exclaimed, “That cat visits me every day!” After a while, it became clear from all the neighbors that everybody knew Cosmo. Cosmo had regular rounds he made every day.
Cosmo is hard to miss. He’s big, orange, friendly, and sports stripes, swirls, and dots. In fact, on several occasions we would see neighbors stop their cars and have a short chat with Cosmo on the lane. We guess you could say he built a brand in our neighborhood. His brand has several elements but his main value proposition is simple, “I am going to steal your heart!” How he does that is by executing a marketing plan aimed at gaining attention and ultimately some kind of treats. He has learned how to work us humans!
When he knows that a neighbor is home because he sees them through their window, he will take his tone and body language from query (Are you home?) to entertainment (short bark-like crys, squirming, paws up on his back, and the pies de resistance, a roll on his head). The performance is extremely effective at getting, “Oh! Your so cute!” and yes, opened doors, petting, conversation, and that treat we mentioned. Then it’s time for a bath and a nap on the most comfortable surface in the neighbor’s house.
Cosmo has figured out when to visit each neighbor. One neighbor reports, “Oh yes, Cosmo is here every morning like clockwork.” Or “He’s waiting for me every time I come home.” One of our neighbors has two horses. You guessed it – Cosmo is friends with the horses! When he gets up on the horse fence they come across the meadow to greet him. Cosmo puts one paw right between their eyes and they just stand there enjoying the company. Sometimes on cold mornings Cosmo will roll over in meadow in front of them and they will breath their heavy and warm horse breaths on his belly while he squirms in enjoyment.
Cosmo loves to hike with us whether it’s down the lane to the mailbox or along the nature trails. He likes to take the lead and occasionally dart up a big oak tree only to flop on a branch 30 and 40 feet above us. For the most part he makes it down on his own. It’s amazing how far and how fast that kitty can trek. We thought we lost Cosmo once and went out hunting for him. We visited neighbors two and three miles away and – yup! They knew Cosmo. “We see him often. He’s that big orange cat that runs along the fences between the horse pastures and the vineyards!” they said. Of course, that meant he could be anywhere in the 1,100 acre vineyard or surrounding neighborhoods. We shouted out his name across the vineyard all day for three days and finally we heard a faint yowl from a forest over a mile from our house. We found him! The coyotes had him treed and we talked him down. Lesson learned!
So, the lessons learned from the “Cosmo brand” include establishing familiarity, persistence, dependability, and the ability to take some hits and learn some lessons. And isn’t that what we want in any brand?