Reading Hardy Boys mysteries has been a quintessential rite of boyhood for more than 80 years. The “…lively adventure stories, packed with mystery and action …” are the stuff boyhood fantasies are made of. Consistently delivering on their action-packed promise has made the fictional detective brothers one of the most enduring – and endearing – brands of the last century.
Understanding the Hardy’s popularity isn’t a mystery; you just have to think like a boy. And, what boy doesn’t dream of thwarting bad guys with fantastic feats of derring-do during dangerous adventures; all under the approving eye of a father who respects him as an equal, and a doting mother who worries without suffocating him? Mix in good friends, guns, gear and gadgets, and it’s a young boy’s dream.
Times may change. People may change. Cultural, and consumer mores may change; but what makes young boys tick hasn’t changed from time immemorial – and since hitting shelves in 1927 Hardy Boys books have been bringing boys’ vibrant fantasy world to life.
That’s what successful brands do; they understand their consumer, opening for them windows to exciting worlds and possibilities. Hardy Boys mysteries cultivated my own love of reading as a youngster, leading me to discover other authors, and books; opening windows as only reading can. All these years later I still remember the wonder and the fun.
Which is why it was so exciting to entrust my coveted collection of Hardy Boys books to my son. At age 7 his imagination is boundless, and his love of reading burgeoning. By today’s standards, the stories may be dated (the Hardys are teens without smartphones, for cryin’ out loud!), but their spirit still connects with the joie de vivre of boyhood fantasy – and my son loves them.
As much as the books themselves, we enjoy the rituals we’ve developed around them. Of course, each night before bedtime we read a chapter, working our way through the collection. My son is thrilled to share these artifacts from my boyhood, and says that he plans to someday give them to his son. I hope that he has that pleasure.
Because our collection is incomplete, we’ve set out searching for missing titles at garage sales, antique stores, and used bookstores; keeping a keen eye open for the rare pre-1959 unedited texts that comprise the original 58 titles aficionados consider the true Hardy Boys mysteries. It’s an adventure not unlike one Frank and Joe Hardy themselves might embark upon; and it’s great fun for us to do together.
Boyhood memories are rekindled for me while new ones are created for my son. Through such rituals, brands become woven into your life – sometimes into the very cultural fabric – to be cherished and shared by generations. During more than 80 years the Hardy Boys have quietly become just such an indelible brand. Various versions, and offshoots have been in continuous print since 1927, with translations in more than 25 languages still selling more than one million copies annually – thrilling boys the world over. Not bad for a modest, kid-lit niche brand.
What is your brand doing to open windows to wondrous worlds; to empower people to greater possibilities; to thrill them? What connections are you creating – what rituals are you fostering – today that will remain relevant 80 years from now? You can do it with any product or service. All you have to do is understand your consumer; give them what they long for; deliver it consistently.