Admirable Brand Marketing

We spend a lot of our time helping brands increase their marketing effectiveness, but yesterday we sat back and took a moment to appreciate those who are doing it right. Here are a few brands, big and small, we admire for thinking holistically when it comes to marketing and telling their story.

Gretchen Ardizzone—Warby Parker

When thinking about admirable brand marketing, for me, it’s got to be Warby. I watched this brand go from undercover indie to mainstream cool, all while managing to maintain their authentic, genuine, do-good attitude. Warby Parker launched in 2010 with its home try-on program and a mission to offer boutique-style glasses at affordable prices.

What makes it admirable is what they’re marketing is bigger than just eye wear. The brand evokes a physical representation of literacy. Heck, the name was even born from two character’s names, Zagg Parker and Warby Pepper, from writer Jack Kerouac’s journal. With a clever approach, they’ve hosted a “hush” mob in the New York public library, launched a pop-up shop newsstand, and traveled cross-country in a bus for a Warby Parker class trip. You can see the consistent theme in their social media too. Blog posts are referred to as “Dispatches from Warby Parker HQ,” tweets often promote books they love, and even their latest TV spot is an “ode to the literary life well-lived.”

Consumers today want to know the in’s and out’s of the brands they buy from, and this brand is not shying away from put themselves under the lens. They’ve been known to publicly post their annual report on Facebook, which not only includes stats on their social media presence, but details about their company culture like bagels eaten per company meeting and favorite beers consumed at weekly happy hours. (If you’re geeky like me you’ll even appreciate the behind the scenes video of making the report).

And let’s not forget the do-good attitude at the core of this brand. They’ve partnered with non-profit organization, VisionSpring, to see that for every pair of glasses sold, another is donated to someone in need. This summer they announced they’ve successfully distributed half a million eyeglasses to those in need.

For a further peek into the Warby Parker brand, check out this video below discussing how they generate traffic through word of mouth, and the genius details behind the hush mob. I’d say they’ve got an eye for marketing.

Luke Pierce—HOMAGE

When it comes to digital marketing, or really just marketing in general, the company I admire most is HOMAGE. If you aren’t familiar with Homage they are a company who specializes in vintage style, sports-centric shirts. The reason they are the company that I admire the most is not because I am crazy about their product, although I am. It’s also not because I love their concept, although I do. And it also isn’t because they are a company based in my hometown, although it makes me swell with pride to see any Columbus company thrive. It is because they do what every company strives to do with their marketing, engage me.

HOMAGE engages me constantly. I enjoy following them on Twitter, they are the only company I have ever participated in a Facebook contest with, and they are one of the few companies I have never opted out of their emails. HOMAGE uses all these modes of marketing communication with incredible balance and clarity to their brand voice. They are a model company for successful digital marketing and I commend them for it.

Shannon Blair—FashionABLE

The brand that inspires me is FashionABLE. The company’s mission is to create sustainable business for Africans so they aren’t dependent upon charity, but instead earn the dignity of a job. So you go to their website, buy an awesome Fall scarf, give opportunities to women and give these amazing ladies something to be proud of. FashionABLE offers opportunity to everyone, but their primary focus is on women. Which is why the brand inspires me so much… they are doing something unique, yet needed – something that was unimaginable 15 years ago. This company is using their brand to stand out in the crowd, and although you may not have heard of them yet, just wait, they have great things to deliver and really cute scarves too!

Marsh Williams—TOMS

When this week’s Free-for-all Friday was announced, I have to admit I was a bit stumped. There are a lot of companies I follow but it took a while to figure out if I follow them because I like their products, or because I like their marketing. May sound silly, but  that’s where I found myself. Then I realized there is one company I follow and check in on regularly just to see what they are doing; TOMS. I pretty much love everything about the company. That’s it, I love the company… okay maybe there is a little more to it.

After thinking about this a little more it occurred to me that their marketing is a reflection of what they believe and what they do. It’s not about getting consumers to believe they are cool just so they will buy their products. Their marketing is simply about telling their story. Their marketing is about communicating what they do day-to-day as a company. They don’t spend a lot of time creating clever ad campaigns, marketing slogans or writing white papers.

While I have no doubt that the company is a crazy, fun, frenetic place to be what makes everything about them work is the commitment they have made to be different in business. To be genuine in their voice and find unique ways to tell their story is a logical extension of that, but I actually think it goes further. They are so passionate about their social agenda that the whole point of selling shoes and other items is to allow them to do more socially. The company has become the machine that funds their social agenda. Through their passion and commitment they have engaged me in wanting to know what they are doing next and learning more about them. They have created the ultimate, genuine story that is worth telling.

Nathaniel Seevers—General Electric

Look around your house. Chances are you have at least one product made by GE or containing a multitude of GE parts. If not, GE probably made the machine that made your product and its parts. Most often companies this large, this old and this celebrated (No. 5 best global brand (Interbrand), No. 63 green company (Newsweek), No. 15 most admired company (Fortune), don’t really do much with online marketing. They often don’t see a real need to. The brand recognition does the job.

But GE doesn’t approach it as marketing. They approach it as communication. And what they’re best at is communicating on all levels. General Electric, just as they’ve evolved and innovated across technology and industry, have done so online with their content strategy, commercial tie-ins and social engagement. GE absolutely kills it on Twitter by the way. They do it because it’s today’s communication and because they know a company like GE should be involved in the conversation.

What brand’s marketing do you admire?

Photo Credit: joshjanssen