Summer is here and it’s only getting hotter. To cool you down and commemorate the arrival of Mother Nature’s most blistering season, we’re celebrating a brand so solidified in their progressive values, with such brand awareness and such yummy ingredients that you may have forgotten they’re a giant corporation.
Of course, we’re talking about Ben & Jerry’s. The company that began when the two slowest kids in gym class became best friends, and after an unsuccessful attempt at making it work in the “real world,” took a $5 ice cream-making class and decided to open a business.
Why do we love them? Because their small-town vibe and progressive values put people first. And, because their ice cream is naturally phenomenal. Not convinced? Read on.
When you think of Ben and Jerry’s, you probably think of more than just delicious ice cream. You think of cows, bright blue trucks and exceedingly clever names: you think of the brand. And making up that brand is the voice and the tone that, through consistently clever marketing, the public associates with Ben and Jerry themselves; that of, just two guys, hanging out, making ice cream. The men behind the product exude a playful confidence; there is a small-town feel within the company that allows it to feel personal and fun. From their ice cream trucks dispensing free scoops, to their colorful stores, Ben & Jerry’s continuously conveys a fun, yet aware, voice and tone that has become their flagship product, you know, beyond ice cream.
In the world of content marketing, the term, “transparent” is heard almost as much as “content is king!” And while most brands stay far, far away from making statements as to their political beliefs, Ben & Jerry’s offers true transparency to their brand’s morality by breaking down their value system into three equally important missions.
Product: Ben & Jerry’s has taken the local, natural ingredients movement a step further than most companies by establishing the Caring Dairy program, dedicated to keeping cows and farmers happy by refraining from artificial growth hormones and committing to using sustainable farming techniques. It is truly “all about the ice cream” for these Vermont natives, and they often sacrifice financial gain in favor of practices that respect the earth and environment.
Economic: With a value of $130 billion dollars, you’d think that Ben & Jerry’s has a monetary motive behind all of their progressive ideas. Above all, the company believes in a values-led business that resonates with consumers beyond their tastebuds. While their mission is sustainable growth for their company, shareholders and employees, they also believe in regulating money out of politics through programs like, “Get the Dough Out of Politics,” aimed at stopping corporations from being allowed to spend unlimited money to influence election outcomes.
Social: The ice cream makers occupy a quasi hippy vibe that enables them to weigh in on big social issues in a subtle, friendly way. Rather than starting a heated debate, they make simple statements to make their audience aware of their stance. The reason this is so remarkable is that not only do these viewpoints align with their socially responsible brand image, but by taking a stance, they have garnered respect as a company. And while making your distinct viewpoint known about hot button issues is progressive, well, it’s been said that everyone has an opinion. Ben & Jerry’s takes it further by interacting directly with their audience, through social and community issues, thus gaining that sought-after virality where your customers are marketing your product. As an example, they temporarily changed the name of their popular Chocolate Fudge Brownie to Food Fight! Fudge Brownie in support of fighting for mandatory GMO labeling.
What differentiates Ben & Jerry’s is that their content strategy is 100% aligned with appealing to their customers above and beyond anything else. As Jerry himself has stated, “We measured our success not just by how much money we made, but by how much we contributed to the community. It was a two-part bottom line.”
Oh, and, um, the Ice Cream
How could we forget the ice cream? Above it all, Ben & Jerry’s strive to produce a superior product. They integrate their ‘60s mentality with product marketing that stays up with the times by tapping into cultural trends: they regularly come out with speciality ice cream like Scotch, Scotch, Scotch in honor of “Anchorman 2” and Hubby Hubby in honor of same sex marriage. They are even launching a series of flavors inspired by SNL sketches. Sure they do fun things but at the end of the day, they resonate with their loyal customers and employees alike through their terrific branding. Oh and speaking of employees … Ben & Jerry’s employees can take home three pints of ice cream each day. Now that makes us melt.
There is a spiritual aspect to our lives … when we give we receive, when a business does something good for somebody, that somebody feels good about them. – Ben Cohen