Going beyond the witty ice-cream names and colourful packaging, the story of Ben & Jerry’s is as feel good as the ice-cream flavours themselves.
Ben & Jerry’s started out in 1978 in a renovated gas station after Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield completed a correspondence course in ice-cream making. From humble beginnings to being owned by Unilever – Ben & Jerry’s have always stayed true to their social, economic and product values.
For example, when you’re tucking into Chocolate Fudge Brownie, what you might not realise it that those delicious brownie chunks were made in Greyston Bakery in New York who help homeless people gain employment skills.
They are the perfect example of a brand that lets audiences know their “why” and incorporate their values into every aspect of the business.
Ben & Jerry’s is a brand with personality and that’s why they’ve got a great story to tell.
Lesson #1 Experiment and Embrace your failures
Ben & Jerry’s is a brand that’s not afraid to experiment… They create weird, wonderful and wacky flavour combinations – some fly high, others fall flat. They don’t shy away from failure – they celebrate it. They even have a flavour graveyard for all the un-loved flavours.
Take inspiration and don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone. Great things can happen. And even if they don’t, why not use Ben & Jerry’s positive approach to deal with the failures?
Lesson #2 Customers value your Corporate Social Responsibility policy
In 1985, Ben and Jerry established The Ben & Jerry’s Foundation, with 7.5% of the company’s annual pre-tax profits to go towards community projects. Even now when you think of Ben & Jerry’s, one of the first things that comes to mind is their enthusiasm to give back to society.
Their latest flavour One Sweet World is helping fund projects run by HOPE and Bob Marley’s One Love flavour is partnered with the Marley family to help finance a youth empowerment programme in Jamaica.
Try to base your CSR policy around something you care about. You’ll be more committed to an issue you are interested in and customers will sense the authenticity.
Lesson #3 It’s ok to have fun!
Ben & Jerry’s thrive on creativity and love running quirky events. Every year they have a Free Scoop Day across their scoop shops. “Join the Core” is run to find and fund socially conscious entrepreneurs.
Right down to their use of accessible language, witty ice-cream names and colourful packaging, Ben & Jerry’s comes across as a fun and engaging brand.
Try think how you could incorporate humour, imagination and fun events into your business.
Lesson #4 Be as transparent as you can
Ben & Jerry’s do their very best to provide their customers with as much information as possible. Their website boasts comprehensive profiles on their Board of Directors, including their favourite flavours, how they came to be involved in the company and what their roles is.
Ben & Jerry’s also publish details on ingredients sourcing, purchasing practices and manufacturing processes. They even have a special section on their website showing the office dogs!
Including a “Meet the Team” on your website or giving interviews about how the company got started will really allow you to open up to your audiences. More so than ever, people enjoy knowing the stories and people behind the products they’re buying.