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What Can We Learn from Ice Cream, Water Bottles, and Haiti?

There is an odd mix of components in this title, but I WILL tie them all together.

Why is there a line out the door for Jeni's Ice Cream? Many people love ice cream, and they have great ice cream, but many businesses sell ice cream. Jeni has a “brand story" to tell, and she tells it very well. It's being told in part on their napkins.

Those who are in the promotional marketing industry accept that it's a commodity business with many suppliers and distributors selling the same "stuff." Sometimes sales are based on relationships, and other times, sales are generated by price. Purchases can also come from a good "brand story."

The concept of "brand story" is commonplace in business circles, but in the promotional marketing business, it is seldom talked about. In an industry all about branding, how much does brand story matter?

An authentic brand story will catch a buyer's attention. When that happens, the product moves past being a commodity and becomes something with significantly more value.

Jeni’s Ice Cream and thousands of other businesses with a story to tell can take a common commodity item (like ice cream) to a higher level of success. We can do the same with some products we sell in our industry.

Apparel is the largest segment in the branded products industry. The classic, always in style, beloved t-shirt holds a prominent place in this category. There are many brands to choose from, and it's shocking how inexpensive a t-shirt can be. There are reasons for the low cost I won't address here. This piece is on brand story, AND I'll add, changing lives.

The topic of eco-friendly and socially responsibly sourced products has been kicked around for years. At one time there was a big push towards a "green" movement. It's still there, but it's quieter. Social responsibility is a newer trend, but many don't care or are unaware of what our inexpensive products actually cost. There is a price to be paid for cheap.

It's been national news that some well-known major brands were caught having goods manufactured in Chinese internment camps. I'll not shame these companies further by mentioning their names, but high-profile brands like these should be aware of how their products are being produced.

How products are sourced will influence the purchasing decisions of many buyers. Would you like to be the one to show these products to them?

In my distributor company, I'm always looking for new ways to generate business. We were putting together a fundraising program for branded products that we could offer schools and events. My son, who just graduated from college, brought to my attention that I was missing the boat by not focusing on eco-friendly, and socially responsibly sourced products.

My son's generation and the next generation of buyers is very aware of how important this is. Their buying habits will reflect their values. He pointed out to me that even as a poor college student, he spent $80.00 on a Patagonia shirt, because of how it's manufactured. Patagonia has a very effective brand story.

At commonsku's skucon conference held in January before the PPAI Expo, Ryan Moor from Ryonet, was the closing keynote speaker. He brought the house down and opened my eyes to something special. Part of what he shared had to do with the game-changing Allmade shirt. Not only is this an environmentally clean product, it also comes with a very compelling humanitarian story.

Does the industry need ANOTHER t-shirt? NO, but YES if it makes good business sense, has a powerful "brand story" that changes lives, and offers a distinctive level of quality.

Lives are being positively impacted through what Allmade is doing. Their tri-blend shirts are made with US Organic Cotton, Recycled Plastic Bottles and TENCEL™ Modal. These sustainable fibers combine to create a soft, flexible, and smooth fabric which looks great without an imprint and holds a vibrant screen printed image.

They are creating good jobs in Haiti, and fighting a cycle of poverty. Allmade is changing the game with responsibly sourced, eco-friendly t-shirts.

NOTE: I brought all the components in my title together...Ice Cream, Water Bottles, and Haiti!

Many businesses, large and small, are making a difference. In a variety of ways, inside and outside the promotional marketing industry companies are offering products that drive purchases. My good friends in Nashville have created Will & Ivey, a children's clothing line with a simple "brand story." This beautiful apparel has a dedicated group of fans.

Coffee is another product that focuses on fair trade and responsible sourcing. Many of these roasters have a compelling "brand story." Kickapoo Coffee Roasters tells their story well on their packaging, and the coffee is fantastic!

Consider what you can do to tell your brand story effectively? Does your business have expertise in a niche market? Are you effectively sharing your company culture and values? Are you involved doing good things in your community, or globally? If the social responsibility story hits you, you can tell that story, but what you share needs to be real.

You have a choice to focus on buying and selling products from companies that are making products that will give you a competitive advantage while doing good stuff. Contact me if you would like to learn more about Allmade.

The right buyers will appreciate what you are offering. Chances are most of your competitors will continue just selling 'stuff." YOU have the opportunity to do something different.

Keyboard drop.

© 2019 Jeff Solomon, MAS


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