Ben & Jerry’s: Unlocking the Power of Contribution

May 26, 2016 | Christophe Fauconnier

Ben & Jerry’s started out with investment of $12,000 and one scoop shop. But from the very beginning they had much more going for them. They started out as business that they turned into a meaningful brand movement. They had a strong point of view that business powered by fun can be a huge cattle-lyst to eliminate injustice in society and along the way they learned to operate like a movement or a community, rather than a machine organization.

As a brand they wanted to be experienced quirky, fun activists who like to stir the pot and as product they wanted to deliver euphoria for the belly and soul by making the best possible ice cream made in the best possible way.

But what made Ben & Jerry’s remarkable was their ability to stage their fight like activists who dare to care with campaigns that fight for legalizing same sex marriage for which they create the product flavors Hubby Hubby and Apple-y-ever-after, the campaign “if it melts its ruined” that focused on rallying people in 26 countries to march in Paris to come up for the planet and take the issue of climate change more seriously by collectively influencing world leaders at COP21. Or in this election year they are campaigning for “take the dough out politics” believing that big money should stay out of supporting parties to keep democracies more honest and fair.

Where we helped Ben & Jerry’s is by enabling them to humanize the people they serve. As a brand that is very aware that they have to be authentic in everything they do, they were careful about engaging the people who consume their ice cream in their activist campaigns. In doing so they were limiting the impact they could have focusing too much on designing their campaigns for output (their output) and too little for shared input. They were not recognizing enough is that the people they serve also aspire a world with more justice and prosperity for all, and it makes them feel good to contribute and to care about the world.

Today Ben & Jerry’s refers to these people as aspiring activists like themselves and they realize that when you have an authentic purpose that resonates with people both inside and outside the company it opens doors to exciting approaches to relationships that can engage your support communities in powerful ways. They are finding that purpose goes hand in hand with success and that people as customers that are aware of Ben & Jerry’s purpose and values are 2,5 times more loyal. The best way to make them aware is by letting them participate and play their part.