Stop Making Everyone Happy: A lesson in branding

The HLVS Fan Company (High Volume, Low Speed) started making their machines in 1999.

They sold to anyone -- residential, commercial, and places of worship. To keep making advancements, they looked for problems their customers identified. For instance, the customers in places of worship needed quieter fans, and the HLVS Fan Co. invented a silent fan motor.

Making great products and serving your customers is one of the best ways to stand out.  A great product with attention to your customer earns respect. But how does a fan company go about differentiating itself from the competition? How many fan brands can you even name? This is where the story behind HLVS gets interesting, and where the company went from making a great product to delivering a total brand experience.


Pretty soon, customers started to call. A lot. They asked if HLVS were the people who made those "big-ass fans." The name stuck, and HLVS Fan Company changed its name to "Big Ass Fans." After developing a shop light, they changed their name again to "Big Ass Solutions."

Big Ass Solutions Logo

Now, they have a mascot (Fanny the Donkey), and a whole range of fans and lights. It's a little cheesy, but they don't take themselves seriously. Yeah, they're a little weird. Yeah, a lot of their copy contains puns ("Ass seen on TV," for instance). But those minor flaws are what bring the company down into something we want to interact with. They seem real and approachable. Plus, their customer service is great, and their products work.

The Big Ass brand won't offend the vast majority of people, but it will cause people to look twice. The people who are offended probably won't be buying the product anyways. It's a win-win. And how do you forget something like Big Ass Fans? You don't.

The design philosophy goes something like, "Make it work really, really well, and then make it better."

And it works. I've seen a couple of the fans in restaurants around Northwest Arkansas, and the way they rotate is actually soothing. None of that high speed, frantic ticking.

Their garage lights seem to be pretty cool too. They claim you can drive a truck over it without breaking it, though I question how one manages to break a shop light that's suspended from typically high ceilings.

If your own lights are going out or your shop just doesn't have enough airflow, Big Ass Solutions might be able to solve your problems. They even offer a free trial on the shop lights. Visit their website for more information:

As you can imagine, a name like Big Ass Fans might not sit well with everybody. But that comes with the territory. I had a teacher tell me, that if no one argues with what you have to say, you're not saying anything worthwhile.

Big Ass Fans is certainly saying something. And there are certainly people who don't agree. Instead of trying to make the complainers happy, Big Ass Solutions features the hate mail.

Case in point: