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WD-40 is a perfect 10

Jules noticed this story on the MIDIOR Consulting blog and asked if we could post it here - we like that even a product as well known as WD-40 has an untold story that's worth sharing.

WD-40 Is A Perfect 10!

Today we have another example of a great product with a great story. Originally developed as a protective coating to prevent rust on the outer surface of the Atlas Missile in 1953, WD-40 is now found in more than 80% of American households. It's not surprising to find WD-40 in the toolbox, in the car, AND in the kitchen. It lubricates, it cleans, it protects and new uses are still being discovered after more than 50 years in the market.

Here is our top ten list of signs that this product was destined for greatness. How well does your product stack up against these indicators of success?

1. During initial development, employees were surreptitiously taking home samples because they thought it was so useful.

2. The only significant complaints about the product have to do with the little red straw which can fall off the nozzle and sometimes gets lost (addressed in 2005 with a can design that has a permanent straw)

3. The product has a fan club with over 100,000 members.

4. Originally called Rocket Chemical Company, the company name was changed to WD-40 Company in 1969 and went public in 1973.

5. The original formula has not changed over time, only the packaging and delivery methods (aerosol cans, precision pens, non-aerosol sprays) have changed.

6. The product has over 2,000 documented uses; ranging from anti-corrosion, to lubrication, to cleaning crayon marks. Our favorite: "keeps snake and reptile skins pliable in taxidermy."

7. The product has inspired its own book, The WD-40 Book.

8. The formula for WD-40 has never been patented (it's not that hard to reproduce, but the strength of the brand is just too good).

9. The product has never been produced under private label or any other name (not even for Sears or Walmart).

10. It took 40 attempts to get the original formula right - hence the name WD-40 (Water Displacement - perfected after 40 attempts). Good thing they didn't stop after 39 failures.

Comments

  • Jules Pieri Says:

    Thanks Nora Gildea and the MIDIOR Consulting team for letting us share this post. The story really delighted me, for its purity. >Jules

  • Apolinaras "Apollo" Sinkevicius | LeanStartups.com Says:

    That is some interesting info I never knew!
    As a car guy, I can't think of anything more useful in my toolbox than a WD-40.

    But, the most interesting part of this post is the point #8. It made me think from the business strategy point of view. I always say ideas are worthless, hence don't need to be protected. It is execution that matter. Having read this post, I may need to add another rule to my arsenal: make your brand strong and you will not have to waste time on chasing copycats.

  • Jules Says:

    Interesting thought Apollo.

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