Maybe it’s all this Boston summertime Vitamin D going to my head, but I’ve been thinking a lot recently about happiness. And as a shopper and a marketer, I can’t help but notice some brands that are doing things right and making me smile.
As a consumer, I want to purchase products that make me happy. Happiness can mean a lot of things. Sure it’s the rational—whether it’s a product that delivers on its promise, a company that delivers beyond your average customer service or a website that lets you purchase its product easily and at the most competitive price. Success with these factors should be considered baseline. But sometimes, more importantly, it’s WHO the brand is. If this brand was a person, would I be their friend? Do we share values and beliefs? No matter how big or small, materialistic or non-materialistic, are you offering your customers or society something besides your product?
As a marketer, it’s important to show success by increasing sales and helping communicate all of the items listed above, but it’s also about learning about what your biggest fans love about you, how you make a difference in their day and what will keep them confident in supporting you—when sales are up AND when sales are down. Businesses are in the business of making money, but while we’re at it, can’t we provide our customers with a little good (with genuine motivations, of course)? We’re not talking “cause marketing campaigns” to check the box of the list, we’re talking about doing good, for the sake of doing good.
Here are some recent ways brands have caught my attention by taking a risk to embrace happiness or by doing good:
- Google: I remember years ago I mentioned to a colleague that Google should make TV spots. They pointedly told me that made no sense. Their growth was multiplying exponentially, at the time they didn’t have any competitors and they had no big awareness shoes to fill – where was the money to be made—where was the ROI to rationalize a big TV media buy? Google is a huge enabler in our lives—making information more accessible to the masses and allowing us to connect with others. That sounds like a pretty emotionally compelling storyline to me. Last month, Google took a risk in standing against teenage bullying with this ad. Google took a stand of what the brand believes in and how it can connect and empower people who feel alone. Keep being fantastic Google.
- Panera Bread: At Communispace, we affectionately call it “the Pan.” It earns a shortened name because it’s the closest lunch option on a day when you’ve forgotten to eat lunch and have no energy to share the full name. While we laugh about being sick of lunching there almost 4 out of 5 days each week, we should acknowledge that we’re lucky to be able to eat lunch 4 out of 5 days a week. I recently read this article about how Panera Bread is continuing to open more nonprofit branches offering food with suggested donations on a “take what you need, leave your fair share” basis. Many CEOs might have seen the idea as not much more than a huge risk, but people visiting the stores have shown themselves to be honest and good. Thanks for recognizing that Panera.
- West Elm: As buying local and embracing individuality continue to captivate consumers; some big chain retailers are wrestling with how to remain relevant. But others are embracing consumers’ commonalities. West Elm has taken a risk by partnering with what could be considered a “competitor” or “a friend with common interests,” etsy.com. In doing so, West Elm is both supporting and publicizing local artisans to customers that want to create a unique and personalized home. How many brands acknowledge they aren’t the ONLY solution in their industry for their customers? Risky business.
If you’re a consumer, what brands have caught your attention by doing good? What brands do you personally identify with in terms of beliefs or values?
If you’re a marketer, what risks have you taken to do good? Are you going beyond the “baseline” to do good and deliver happiness with your brand?