Crafting a Charismatic, Living Brand

coffee-mugWe’ve prototyped a 10-ounce mug. It’s made of plastic, is black, maintains liquid temps pretty well, and retails for about $3. The product is called the Miracle Mug. We’re selling it at service stations for “Folks on the Go.” Want to buy one?

Most consumers would say something to the effect of, “No thanks. I’m all set with cheap kitchenware.”

Businesses hire Bon’s Eye to bring life to their products and services – not because it’s cool or trendy – but because there’s appeal in a living identity. There’s growth, a greater purpose to engage, surprise and a constantly-evolving narrative.

To accomplish this, we focus on building out three personified segments of brand. Metaphorically, we call them the mind, body and voice. These are the business’s personality, look and message. Consider our mug prototype. Not real appealing when sold simply on cost and deliverables. However, what if this product had a living identity?

I introduce you to Swig N’ Save mugs. They’re midnight black and made of highly-durable recycled plastic. Across the center of each, vibrant blue letters spell out Swig = Save. The mugs retail for $5, with 10 percent of sales proceeds going to the Global Reforestation Society. That’s intentionally a 1 percent earth payback for every ounce of drink held.tree-growing

Each mug comes in a box made of seeded paper, which can be tossed outside to produce flowers. The product is for those “Thirsty for Growth.” On the company’s Website and social media platforms, visitors can find all-natural drink recipes and clever ways to use the mug as a statement piece – think plant holder.

Prelaunch, the company shipped 25,000 mugs to school faculty members around the country to honor National Teacher’s Day. The campaign was twofold: It secured media coverage in those markets and introduced the product to a younger demographic. Every day when those kids entered the classroom, the mug would be front-and-center on teacher’s desk.

This was all a very calculated communications effort, of course. See Swig N’ Save planned to evolve their environmental narrative into one that included an academic hook. Shortly after going live, the brand started a Life Sciences Scholarship. Knowing the brand’s personality and culture of growth, this resonated with leaders within certain school systems. The product was quickly adopted as a sensible item for fundraisers.

Over the next few years, Swig N Save stopped becoming a tool from which to drink coffee, water and beer. It morphed into something much more important – a reflection of those gripping the handle. It became a movement, a lifestyle brand with very organic qualities – literally and figuratively.

Now clearly this story is a fictional tale, fabricated for our own motive to prove a point! Product roll outs (particularly of the mug variety) don’t always go so swimmingly. There are lots of influencers, beyond identity, that must be considered. Hopefully you address those variables in the R&D phase, and when the time comes, enter the marketplace with a charismatic, living brand that keeps them wanting more.



    Stephen Bon, President



Disclaimer: Business and product names in this blog are meant to serve as fictional examples. Any similarities to actual brands are completely coincidental. 

The Customer is Not Always Right

Marketing and public relations are fields that are full of surprises. Sometimes, you can anticipate which changes will rock the boat; other times, you can only attempt to react with grace and intelligence.

Target recently made a decision to replace the pink and blue signs in their toy section with more gender neutral colors. Top executives expected some backlash, but they could never have predicted the effect one overly-eager fan would have on its reputation.

Mike Melgaard was scrolling through Facebook when he saw Target’s news. Right away, he knew there would be offended Americans writing on the company’s Facebook wall so he decided to take it upon himself to do some proactive damage control. Melgaard created a fake Facebook account posing as a Target customer service rep and responded to the outraged fans.

Target - twitterpic1  Target - twitterpic2

Although his responses were entertaining to most, a few disgruntled Facebook users were certainly not amused. Some even threatened to report Melgaard to his superiors, not realizing he had none. Even so, Target felt the need to apologize to their fan base for their so-called employee’s actions. They offered this official statement:

“At Target, we are committed to providing outstanding guest service to our guests wherever we engage with them—in our stores, online, or on our social pages. Clearly this individual was not speaking on behalf of Target. Should guests ever have questions on whether a communication from Target is legitimate, we encourage them to reach out to guest relations at 1-800-440-0680.”

Later that week, however, they posted a picture to Facebook of two Troll dolls, slyly implying support of Melgaard’s antics without actually saying it.

The lesson learned: Listen to your followers and fans. Target was smart enough to recognize that although Melgaard was a little more sarcastic and offensive than any real Target employee should be, he did more good than bad. Target might have lost a few fans throughout the process, but they gained many others thanks to one rogue “employee.”