Shawn Parr: Building an Authentic Brand People Believe In

The head of innovation/design consultancy Bulldog Drummond extols the consumer connection-savvy of lighter brand, Zippo

Building a brand that stands for something is challenging; it takes time and most importantly, authenticity. Almost all companies hope to impart a positive emotion or gain immediate recognition upon someone viewing their logo, hearing their name or considering their story. Zippo is one such company that has been able to achieve that success.

When most people hear the word Zippo they have immediate brand recognition. Its name and brand persona hold a reputation of tradition and durability that companies and industry leaders can learn from.

Zippo Conveys Quality and Personality

Zippo employs these important values throughout their company. Personality reflects the nature of the brand, right to its core. A Zippo lighter is considered an extension of one’s personality, a reflection of a person’s character right down to the color and design of the lighter. With personality in mind, they’ve also made innovations in their manufacturing processes to emphasize design by making customizations available on their website. Today, Zippo’s “Customize It” feature online enables consumers to upload any image they want imprinted on their lighter to create an even more unique Zippo allowing users to make a statement about who they are and what’s important to them.

Zippo works each day to ensure that their brand promises shape their business decisions. They believe that quality starts at their roots, and that supporting consumers who share their values is the most effective way to fuel growth.

“We believe in communicating quality through our lifetime guarantee policy – ‘It Works or We Fix It Free’ – which is threaded throughout the company,” says Global Marketing Director, David Warfel.

Marketers, entrepreneurs and company executives alike should consider the values that a company operates within before creating a campaign or advertising strategy. By tying efforts to a brand’s promise, you’ll be creating something that is more meaningful—to you, your company and your consumers.

Zippo Knows How to Communicate Directly with Fans

Zippo recently created an experience for fans by fans—a campaign inspired by consumer feedback and their long-held company values—#ShareThePain. In response to a growing number of consumers turning to social media to vent about the loss of their Zippo lighters, Zippo launched ShareThePain.com and created custom meaningful content unique to Zippo consumers. They engaged with consumers one-on-one via Twitter to commiserate the pain of losing a beloved lighter.

“The results from the campaign have been exceptional and we’ve seen an organic increase of over 8,500 fans on Zippo’s Facebook and Twitter accounts. It is important for the future of the brand to have a strong presence on social media so that we can continue to nurture the relationships we’ve developed with our passionate fan base,” said Warfel.

#ShareThePain is an example of Zippo furthering its investment in consumer insight, knowing where its target audiences live and engaging with them in meaningful conversation. The key insight is that the entire campaign was built around quality and personality.

In the U.S. alone Zippo continues to see over 100 tweets each month about lost Zippo lighters, and these tweets are completely unsolicited. As a brand, this offers Zippo an ongoing opportunity to engage with fans and offer “condolences” for lost lighters. It also provides an opportunity to learn from consumers and turn feedback into ideas around how to better communicate with them, provide content and services they find most important, and continue to drive the brand in the direction that resonates with consumers most.

Zippo will continue to be a thriving brand because of their authenticity and ability to successfully communicate with their consumers. They’re revolving their business around their consumers, and that’s what people truly value in a brand.

Shawn Parr is the Guvner & CEO of Bulldog Drummond, an innovation and design consultancy headquartered in San Diego whose clients and partners have included Starbucks, Diageo, Jack in the Box, Taco Bell, Adidas, MTV, Nestle, Pinkberry, American Eagle Outfitters, Ideo, Sony, Virgin, Disney, Nike, Mattel, Heineken, Annie’s Homegrown, Kashi, The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, CleanWell, The Honest Kitchen, and World Vision. Follow the conversation at @BULLDOGDRUMMOND.

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