How did you spend Earth Overshoot Day ? Sweating, I suppose.
As of 1 August, World Exhaustion Day, this year we have used up all the resources the Earth can renew within a year. Mankind will be living on eco-pump until the end of the year. Humanity, by the way, is you and me, among others ...
In Austria, for once we were a bit faster than others, we had already finished the issue on 15 April. The friends from Germany were still enjoying themselves until 2 May, the Swiss until 7 May, and the USA had already polished off their resources on 15 March. Everyone does as fast as they can.
In that sense, it's quite fitting that, thanks to an official heat wave, litres of sweat are currently spraying horizontally from our pores. If you want to shake someone's hand these days, there's a good chance that your paw will slide right up under your armpit. Hooray!
In the face of such circumstances, Austrians like to let out a hearty "Geh leck!", which can be translated into German as "Och menno!", or into American as: "Fuck a duck!".
Those who really know their stuff cool off with warm tea. The rest of us prefer to go ice licking.
Businesses without meaning are meaningless.
For us story insiders, Ben & Jerry's tastes particularly good because we know: Nobody buys products, but what they want to be and like to have products that can do more than just - as in this case - be cold and taste good. Meaning is the magic word.
This works particularly well when the meaning is not sprinkled on top as a pretty garnish, but is deeply and firmly rooted in the company, ideally in the founding dream. Then the meaning is real, authentic and credible, and can therefore be sustainably effective with all due respect to the audience. I think that in truth, only then can one speak of a real brand. All combinations of products, communication and advertising create at best the impression of a brand. This may well be successful, as the last 150 years have shown, but it is no longer solid today.
40 years ago - or so legend has it - the two registered hippies Ben Cohen & Jerry Greenfield founded their ice cream parlour in an abandoned petrol station in Vermont because they didn't really know what to do with their day apart from spreading Love & Peace. After three years, however, Ben Cohen noticed that not only was there no sense coming out of his work, quite the opposite. He had turned into something he deeply disliked: he had become a business man.
What was missing was the story, the meaning - for the company Ben & Jerry's as well as for the founders themselves. The two were on the verge of selling the company when a friend and mentor advised them: "If you don't like the way the business world works, then change the way you run your own business. An epiphany moment for Ben Cohen!
"Two bullets of importance, please!"
Since then, a company has emerged with Ben & Jerry's a company that is exemplary in terms of social commitment to ecology, peace, fairness, etc. Authentic, credible and a lot of fun. Authentic, credible, combative and with a lot of fun, completely without a stuffy do-gooder vibe. And above all, without any super embarrassing Pepsi & Kendall Jenner jokes.
The Ben & Jerry's storyputs you in a good mood and fits very much into the life model of people who eat ice cream instead of drinking warm tea. Delightful! That's the magic formula: Meaning + Relationship = Enthusiasm.
This is how superficial storytelling becomes effective storysharing: brand and audience share a common longing. It all starts with delicious ice cream. People love to eat it. With every cup of Ben & Jerry's, however, they buy a large portion of "I want to be like that" and spoon it up with pleasure. And they share the story because it tells them about themselves.
This did not change when Ben & Jerry's was sold to Unilever a few years ago and the founders withdrew from the day-to-day operations, but are still involved as external faces and mentors of the brand. In the meantime, Ben & Jerry's employs an activism manager, Chris Miller, so that the brand's commitment can be further expanded.
The Ben & Jerry's example may also have triggered a number of positive developments at Unilever . With Dove, Unilever was already home to a brand that also took new paths in its marketing in the direction of Brand with Purpose. The realisation that a serious and serious-minded communication, combined with the appropriate attitude, has a positive effect on the business result led to a massive reorientation of the group as a whole, led by marketing honcho Keith Weed.
This does not turn a corporation into a community of saints, but it certainly moves a lot in a positive direction in terms of the way of doing business and the way of communicating in equal measure.
You can also read ice cream, especially now during the holiday season. Because it fits so well, I recommend the latest work by Andrea De Carlo, one of my favourite authors for many years. "An Almost Perfect Miracle" will give you great reading pleasure* - preferably in the shade, a cup of warm tea within reach. The story is about ... hm ... the magic of passion(s), the call of the inner voice and about - the cover of the original Italian edition suggests it ...
Moo!" becomes "Wow!"
While we are on the subject: For some years now there has been the Eis Greissler in Austria. Eis Greissler was founded by a Lower Austrian farming family because, as a supplier of organic school milk of the summer, they naturally encountered tight limits in the sale of their white gold. So the Blochbergers created regional, seasonal ice cream in classic and quite unusual varieties. In the meantime, they employ 150 people and have set up a truly impressive company that shines brightly with a loving corporate design, a few shops and a programme of visits to the manufactory. The schoolchildren in the region probably have to drink Coke.
The first shop was opened by the clever people right next to my office, which resulted in me eating the Eis Greissler coveralone, and I strongly recommend that everyone who hasn't already does so to pick up these delicacies from another star. Patience is the order of the day, as there is usually a queue outside the shop ... Read more about this story here
As far as the brand story is concerned, the Eis-Greissler still has a lot of untapped potential ahead of it, so there is every opportunity for an exciting future with multi-faceted storysharing so that the brand grows firmly via its significance not only on the palate but also in people's hearts.
Story is a question of attitude and an indispensable necessity for successful communication anyway, but also for a successful company, for the existence of a brand. Those who manage to build a movement around the values of their brand are way, way ahead. I am firmly convinced that this is the best method for contemporary marketing communication. With every commercial I see on TV or hear on the radio, this conviction becomes a diamond-hard certainty.
And just so there are no misunderstandings: Meaning and Movement doesn't necessarily have to be about eco-themes, tree-hugging and saving humanity. This thematic world often lends itself and is quite obvious for some products, but perhaps wrong for this very reason. Often those who bravely brush against the grain are rewarded the richest. Amen.
Regardless of whether it's a global corporation, SME or EPU - every person, every brand, every company has a story and stands for something. Or for nothing, because you can't have no story. In the worst - and quite frequent - case, however, only one issue remains: the price.
That's why my grandmother, old Story Dudette, who was known for sharing her wealth of experience but never her ice cream, exclaimed: "No Story. No Glory."
*) By the way, the link to Amazon is intended as a service for sniffing around and in case you want to feed your Kindle right away. Every bookseller is happy about a purchase and gets every book by Andrea De Carlo in no time at all - sometimes the hand is turned around two or three times ... The reward for this: there is always a lot to discover during a visit to the bookshop, and I am also happy about relevant tips - not only from the non-fiction and specialist book corner, but also explicitly from fiction.
Cover image: depositphotos.com
Collage: Giunti Editore, andreadecarlo.com
Ice cream: Blochberger Eisproduktion GmbH