Genuine community service Archives - Puris Consulting
Personal Branding Case Study: Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream

Written by Katy Goshtasbi

Posted on: May 11, 2011

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A few weeks ago I was watching a biography on the founders of the successful ice cream brand, Ben & Jerry.  I think I’ve seen the show three times now. The reason is because Ben and Jerry’s story fascinates me AND serves as a perfect picture of what a quality personal brand can do for the owners of a business and for society as a whole.  Now I know you may be thinking this is just ice cream, but let me explain.

In a nutshell, Ben and Jerry began the company in 1978 with $14,000 in Vermont.  They grew the business tremendously and no longer own it.  However the in-between actions is what is text book personal branding, in my opinion.

As you watch the interview, you will see that what differentiated Ben and Jerry is that they truly seem to understand who they were as people BEFORE they launched their business.  This was key in establishing their personal brand and blending it in well with the business brand they built for Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream.   They even mentioned in their interview that they wanted to be “genuine and real” always.  Look at all the names of their ice cream flavors- they represent Ben and Jerry’s personality and personal brands. Genuine and real is all we should ever strive to be.  This attitude and behavior is what people gravitate towards.

Here at Puris, we stress community service and we build community service platforms for companies.  Throughout their ownership of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, Ben and Jerry seemed committed to supporting the local community and people of Vermont.  In fact, they even said that this was a huge part of their image within the company. Thus,  they used Vermont milk. To help the local Vermont sewage system, they supplied ice cream waste to a local pig farm.  There are many other examples of their community service.

In fact, their three part mission statement says it all- it includes a product mission, social mission and economic mission.  All of it centers around the environment and community. You can find their mission statement on their website.

So what’s in this for you as a business owner?  Remember, that your business is there to serve a purpose and to contribute a product or service to society. So often we forget we are here to serve others as business owners. This is the very reason the business fails- the personal brand is never developed: the owners never understand their reason for owning the business and contributing to society and never infuse their personality into the business.   To make matters worse, the business then sets out to “market” and develops into a poor business brand without any real values or community platform.

Instead, I encourage you to look at yourself as the owner. Do you understand how you fit into the big picture of your business? Do you understand your personal brand?  Then use your business to help your local community in real and tangible ways- regularly!  Your community will thank you and become huge supporters of your business because you care about them.  Pretty simple model- missed by most small businesses.

For the full story on Ben & Jerry, check out their website.

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