leadership dot #2581: cow-like

If you want to see an example of a company that does branding right, look no further than ChickFilA. Yesterday was Cow Appreciation Day at our local restaurant – a gimmick to give a free entrée to anyone who “wore anything cow-like.”

The entire dining area was full of people who got into the spirit. People wore white garbage bags with pieces of black garbage bags cut into cow spots; black t-shirts with cut-up paper plates as spots; printed cow pictures made into headbands or necklaces, cowbells, and my personal favorite, a piece of paper made into a cow tag for the ear.

ChickFilA did their part with the mascot cow outside taking photos, giveaways for the kids, a red carpet greeting guests, cow balloon arches and cow-patterned material covering the counter. It was festive from the moment you walked in but what really made it special were the costumes.

The restaurant could have easily generated an audience by giving away free sandwiches but by requiring people to dress up it added to everyone’s engagement and fun. “Anything cow-like” was liberally interpreted making it an incentive rather than a barrier and it allowed whole families to come in wearing handmade bovine attire.

The next time you host a promotion find a way to get your audience involved in creating the festivities. Instead of just a sale, make it an event to be remembered.

leadership dot #2574: bandwagon

There’s nothing like a holiday to create a bandwagon for marketers to jump on and the Fourth of July is no exception. It seems that the weeks between Memorial Day and Independence Day have become one big promotional marathon with stores and their products decked out in red, white and blue – hoping that it makes consumers spend green.

It’s one thing to promote the blueberries and strawberries that would be sold anyway but this year I was struck at the number of pre-packaged products that came out with a holiday edition. Cereals, chips, candies, cookies, beverages and snacks offered their foods dyed with the colors of our nation. Paper products, clothing, decorations and flowers all feature stars or stripes. If there was a way to tie something to the holiday retailers have done it.

On a personal level, you still have today to rush out and deck your halls and buffet table with red, white and blue. Organizationally, take a moment to process the frenzy around you. Did you waste time and energy by participating, or did your additional efforts pay off? If you sat out, could you have benefitted from being part of the wave?

The calendar is packed with mass merchandising opportunities: back-to-school, Pumpkin Spice, Halloween, Dia de los Muertos are all on deck. Jump on the bandwagon or stay off – but do either with intentionality.

leadership dot #2571: exit process

I have experienced some really poor service lately but was pleasantly surprised as I left the United Center. There, at all the entrances, were employees holding up a “Thank you for attending” sign. It served a dual purpose: a) to offer a moment of appreciation in an industry usually devoid of it and b) to easily identify the staff members who could answer questions, provide directions, etc. It seemed to work beautifully.

Kudos to the person who thought through the fan experience and took the small step to make the exit process just that much easier.

Take a moment to see your organization’s service from the consumer perspective – start to finish – and see if you can provide a few small enhancements to the experience. Often all the attention goes to the main event, but it’s what happens on the way out that leaves a lasting impression.

 

leadership dot #2570: local

I recently attended an event at the United Center in Chicago and was delighted to be surrounded by all local brands. Instead of the usual generic stadium offerings, the arena prominently featured area favorites: Vienna Beef hotdogs, Giordano’s pizza, Sweet Baby Ray’s ribs, Goose Island Beer, Garrett’s popcorn, Nuts on Clark and more. I could have spent the evening eating!

The shift to local foods is an intentional one as the management seeks to banish “soulless food” and replace it with dining delights. It is an effective way to brand the arena more closely to its home city and to instill a bit more pride in the hometown fans.

Think of what you can do to tie your physical space to the culture that you are attempting to create. Is there a way to offer furniture, food or art that reflects your desired audience? Can you add touches to anchor your space to your mission instead of opting for the easy and generic fare?

Everything in your environment sends a message. Be intentional about what your surroundings are saying about you and your brand.

leadership dot #2564: boo-boos

How do you command a premium price for an ordinary product? One way is through packaging. The Welly Company has done just that with a new line of bandages that come in colorful containers labeled with clever names.

There is a whole series of colorful first-aid items: Bumper Stickers (for knee and elbow injuries), Blister Blasters (for fingers and toes) and Kicker Stickers (that protect from heel rubs). Creams are called Bravery Balm and Calm Balm (to relieve itching). Other supplies include Comfy Covers, Oops Equipment, a Human Repair Kit and Dressings for Distress.

The items cost about twice what the standard first aid supplies do, but it may be worth it to parents. Instead of begging a child to tend to their wound, it would be a lot more enticing for him to wear a Bravery Badge, to utilize Superhero Supplies or to select a Handie Bandie from the polka dotted box.

A rose by any other name may still be a rose, but a boo-boo salved with Bravery Balm and Hero Tape is designed to provide quicker relief than Neosporin and a bandage. How can you repackage the ordinary and make it “all better” for your organization?

 

leadership dot #2563: dimension

Instead of placing a typical advertisement in the home airport of its world headquarters, John Deere took a creative approach to remind passengers that they were in Deere territory. Throughout the terminal are banks of seats that are replicas of those used in Deere tractors and construction equipment, providing not only a reminder of the area’s premier business but also providing much greater comfort than the standard seats surrounding them.

It may have been impractical to put an actual tractor or bulldozer on the concourse but the seats convey the same brand identity in an instant. Is there a piece of your product or a tangible aspect of your service that could be repurposed for advertising or brand awareness? A nursery could create planters in a mall or place of worship. A potter could provide ceramic mugs for a coffee shop. A discount store could provide shopping carts to use at an outdoor festival or fair.

Signs, social media posts and other 2-D advertisements are passe. Find a way to bring some dimension into your awareness campaign.

leadership dot #2556: bag it

I always think of the Red Cross being there in times of need – providing essentials to families whose home was destroyed by fire or assisting victims of natural disasters – but rarely do I consider where their supplies come from. In St. Louis, the local Red Cross made a concerted effort to gather items in an unusual way by placing donation bags on homes throughout neighborhoods.

Rather than utilizing a brown paper bag or a normal-sized plastic bag, the Red Cross ensured their donation bags would not be missed by making them bright pink and oversized. In addition, they were placed in unusual locations: on garage door openers, mailboxes, garage door handles, etc. Even if you did not contribute, you couldn’t miss the fact that the Red Cross was collecting and learn what items they found desirable.

In one effort, the Red Cross communicated their message, got noticed and gathered donations. The next time you’re tempted to do an appeal by sending a letter or posting on social media think about the giant pink bags of the Red Cross. How can you follow their example and take a unique approach to encourage donations?

Thanks, Brian!