What does it take to turn a typical small business into a powerful brand? Why do some businesses – with relatively mundane products and services – take off, while others stagnate?
Often it comes down to personality. Or lack thereof.
When Ben Cohen & Jerry Greenfield started selling homemade ice cream out of a renovated gas station in Burlington, Vermont, it was personality and a little extra attitude that helped get the business off the ground. Jerry said, “If it’s not fun, why do it?” Ben said “Every company has a responsibility to give back to the community.” Those two simple ideas became the driving philosophy of the Ben & Jerry’s brand.
Over the years they’ve had a lot of fun with their crazy flavors: First it was Cherry Garcia, named for Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead. Currently, it’s Karamel Sutra, The Vermonster and Oh My Apple Pie… There’s authentic brand personality in every spoon.
Needless to say, some people (including a few franchisees) were offended by the idea. But the company’s not shy. In fact, you could say that bravery is part of the brand personality. Ben & Jerry have never been afraid of a little controversy. They decided from the off that the company needed to stand for something beyond just making money. So they built their passion for social and environmental issues into the business model. That, by itself, differentiates their brand from the competition – and from 90% of the corporations out there.
You don’t see Haggen Daz doing Free Cone Day for local charities. Or buying environmentally friendly freezers. Or supporting Fair Trade. Or railing against military spending. Or even occupying wall street. Or supporting a local school fundraiser…
In their book, “Double Dip,” Ben said “Modern marketing is a process whereby faceless, nameless, valueless corporations hire marketers to determine what the consumer would like their brand to be, and then fabricate an image that corresponds. But they still only get a sliver of the market, because their made-up story isn’t any more appealing than the next. With values-led marketing you just go out there and say who you are. You don’t have to fool people to sell them your product.” That’s what you call an authentic brand personality.
Most business owners seem to think they should keep their personal views and beliefs out of business. But for Ben & Jerry, their personalities and personal moral code created a corporate culture that’s become a model for value-driven businesses everywhere.
It’s this that drives brand loyalty. And it doesn’t come from big, trumped up marketing efforts. It comes from doing things passionately. Consistently. And honestly.
As Ben & Jerry have said, “Only the quality of the product and the resonance a customer feels with the company can produce repeat business and brand loyalty.”
Big personalities resonate. But as Ben & Jerry prove, you don’t have to be Richard Branson to build a successful brand. You just have to be passionate about something. Because humans are naturally drawn to passionate people.
If you are looking to give your brand or marketing a boost and think The Agency could help,
why not give us a call on 0121 224 8300 or email: [email protected]