I am writing to you from the road after taking an impromptu road trip with my family to Nashville this weekend. We hung out with some dear friends, had drinks, talked business, ate barbecue and generally just lived it up, as you do. I also saw my friend perform in Motown the Musical (it was amazing!).
On our last day, we went to an ice cream shop called Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream. The napkins at Jeni's got me thinking about branding. What in the name of honky tonk (it's a thing in Nashville) do ice cream napkins have to do with branding? Allow me to elaborate.
Last week, I told you to get back to the tried and true basics of building a profitable business: do what you love, have more fun and make more friends (trust me, it works!). Now I want to talk about how creating something new that has never been done before can bring you more of all three.
Having an innovative brand will attract engaged fans to your business. And if you haven't got the memo yet, engaged fans = DOLLA DOLLA BILLS, Y'ALL!
But how do you even go about creating an innovative brand that makes hearts flutter and mouths foam (yep, in this instance only, foaming mouths is a good thing)? It's quite simple. So simple, in fact, that it's almost embarrassing that everyone isn't already doing it.
All you have to do to make your brand standout is take things that normally never go to together (they can be almost opposites) and put them together. BOOYAHRASHAKA! Insta-innovation…
Innovation = combining things in an unexpected way. Duh.
For example, who has ever heard of combining legal guidance with comedy? No one, that's who. That's what made Small Business Bodyguard such a huge success. We took that “For Dummy's” thing to a whole ‘nother level by combining our reliable, expert legal information with hilarious, irreverent humor. That's what keeps Small Business Bodyguard customers recommending it to friends and why over two and half years later, it continues to consistently sell week after week with no constant promotion necessary.
Likewise, baking cake is not something you normally see combined with business coaching but that's exactly what I did for my upcoming event in NYC. But it's not just about being more noticeable, combining things in an unexpected way can yield magic. Just like Small Business Bodyguard got more entrepreneurs to get focused on the legal aspects of their business without making it a brutally boring, miserable process, getting entrepreneurs together to bake a cake in small teams makes it easier for folks that don't know each other to bond. Once you've bonded with a fellow entrepreneur, it's much easier to get vulnerable and share your true business struggles plus get the advice and resources you need to overcome them. If you don't tell somebody what you are struggling with how can you get help? And talking about business challenges while licking yummy frosting off of a spatula makes SO MUCH SENSE.
So what the hell does this have to do with ice cream napkins, Rachel?
Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream blew me away because they have mastered the art of combining things in unexpected ways (and in an industry you would never expect to see a lifestyle brand centered around). Here's what I learned from the back of their napkins:
They've showcased their goods in a way it has never been done before. Jeni's is known for making incredible, all natural ice cream flavors that you can't find anywhere else. For example, I had Brown Butter Almond Brittle ice cream and it was life changing. But this year, they decided to showcase some reimagined classic ice cream flavors. They could have just said, ‘hey we have these new flavors for a limited time.' But why do that when they can turn these new flavors into an art collection titled American Licks. Yep, it was displayed like an exhibit with an explanation for these limited edition works of art. Not only that, but you can get a cute, hipster limited edition American Licks t-shirt to go with your ice cream. Combining ice cream with an art exhibit? Brilliant!
They've used their own personal interests as a way to connect with their target market. Jeni's actively recruits musicians and other artists as employees. They scoop ice cream by day and work on their art by night. So why not create a music album to extend the brand and showcase the spirit of the brand? Why not, indeed. Jeni's has a company band who created an album available on iTunes. What better way to keep your ice cream shop top of your customer's mind, than having them bopping to the music created by your team on their way to work.
Do these brand innovations lead to profits? I'd say so. There was a line of ice cream craving customers out the door in the middle of winter when I was there..
So how can you make your brand stand out and innovate like a motherfucker?
Follow Jeni's example. Showcase your goods and services in an unexpected way. Use your own personal interests to guide you towards fun ways to combine your services with things that will blow your customers away.
Lastly, never underestimate fun. Inject fun in whatever you do and suddenly people will sit up and take notice.
How can you make your brand stand out by combining your services with something you love to do? Comment below and let me know.