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How a woman named Thelma changed my views on marketing...and helped me clean up my act.

mrs. meyers soap radish When I was little and we would leave a restaurant, two things would inevitably happen. My dad would pop a red-and-white peppermint in his mouth before we had hit the door, and as soon as we climbed in the car my mom would roll down the window, gasping for fresh air. I always liked the smell of mint so I never understood her aversion, but the day I walked face-first into a friend's vanilla candle-laden home, it all started to make sense. I felt like someone had smeared my nose in a cupcake. And while I love a cupcake just as much as the next girl, I'd rank artificial cupcake scent somewhere between "wet dog" and "dorito feet" on the olfactory offensiveness scale.

Among all the wonderful things I inherited from my mother, it seems  I also inherited her acute sense of smell.

Which is precisely what inspired my first purchase of Mrs. Meyers hand soap. Actually, that's not true. The design drew me in, the scent sold me. I'd like to say "the rest is history" (because that would make for an epically succinct blog post), but it wasn't so. That afternoon, standing in the soap aisle at Target, was just the beginning of a true love story about to unfold.

There aren't a lot of brands I'd profess to love. Even fewer I would say make me feel giddy with joy. Mrs. Meyers is both of those and more. And as someone who so feels enraged over paying $12 for a pack of toilet paper that she has to text her sister to express said anger from the store, pledging allegiance to a $4 bottle of hand soap is kind of a big deal.

Months after becoming a Mrs. Meyers fan, I finally moseyed over to to check out Thelma's website...only to discover a mecca of marketing excellence. (I'm only sort of joking when I say I tiny digital branding and identity angels descended on my screen...)

Beautiful, clean, on-brand site design! Amazing execution of brand storytelling! A tagline that integrates the phrase "like the dickens!"

And that's when the music began. 

Had I found the Holy Grail of  marketing done right?

So here we are. You be the reader, I'll be the writer. And we'll spend the next couple weeks worth of blog posts taking a look at a company that is more than just another pretty smell.

Cupcake huffers need not apply.

When I say “Starbucks,” you say...???

What words or phrases come to mind when you see a Starbucks logo? What feelings do you associate with the Porsche seal? What do you think about when you pass a truck with the FedEx mark painted on its side? Here’s a fun little midweek find that will give you some insight on how other people are answering similar questions.

Brandtags is a crowdsourced collection of consumer brand sentiment. The premise is that a brand exists entirely in people’s heads, therefore a brand is whatever they (people/customers) say it is. Brandtags is a place where people can share their opinions about brands freely, and brand owners can learn how their brands are viewed.

Check out Brandtags to try out logo free association, or to explore how others define the brands that play a part in our daily lives.

Finding Identity: Fill in the Blank Confession: I really like Twitter bios.

In only a couple sentences, I am able to weed the “cake people” from the “pie people,” and the “cat people” from the “dog people.” In one little paragraph, I have learned that the head of a rather large public relations firm considers himself a french fry fanatic, and the CEO of a big brand is a self-professed “pencil person.” When it comes to Twitter bios, there seems to be something about the limited character space compels people to put a stake in the ground, make a personal declaration and swiftly self-identify.

But what is identity, really? How would you define it? One dictionary suggests it is simply “knowledge of who one is.” Whether you’re a brand or simply a human being, it’s an important question to ask yourself – and an even more important question to answer.

Why? Because the answer helps us connect to our kindred spirits, our passion and our purpose in this world.

From The Brains on Fire Book (Lesson 7, page 109)

Fill in the blank: I am a ______________.

A mac? A PC? A card-carrying member of the NRA? Buddhist? Vegetarian? What would you fill in that blank with?

Whatever it is, it’s part of your identity. It’s a label. It’s something with which you identify and something you support. And most important, it’s a part of you.

As humans, we are fundamentally hardwired to desire to be a part of something bigger than ourselves, more important than we are alone. Religion, sports teams – even brands. We’re always on the lookout for things that we can incorporate into our personalities – because it creates a sense of belonging. And we all want to belong.

Powerful identities help draw kindred spirits to you and give them a badge of honor to wear. It allows you to recognize others in the movement, be able to share their stories, and both with like-minded people. It’s an extremely powerful tool, considering that we spend much of our lives being identified by what people call us. Getting a chance to say, “This is who I am in spite of what everybody things” in an authentic way can be a really exciting moment for someone. Joining a movement is a chance to take control of your identity rather than falling victim to someone else’s labeling.

Me? I am a sister, a daughter, a dog person. A BOF-er and a displaced Midwesterner. A Buckeye. A first-born ENFP. I am a Catholic, a former Texan and a part-time vegetarian. I’m a writer, a Honda driver, an optimist and a life enthusiast. I’m a Googler, a storyteller, a dreamer and a pixie dust sneezer. I am a hopeless romantic, an iPhone-user and a lover of Sharpies.

Who are you?

Just a Love Machine

Today I’d like to talk about Todd.

A TODD Talk, if you will.

Meet Todd. We know his name because it isembroidered on a patch sewn to the unassuming beige jumpsuit he wears Monday through Friday. Todd drives a truck full of soda. Day in and day out he stops at various locations around the city, quietly letting himself in and out ofoffice buildings, schools, churches, malls and lobbies. After refilling theemptied racks inside glowing red machines, Todd returns to his truck and heads down the road to the next destination on his list.

Sounds kind of unremarkable, doesn’t it?

Here is what you may not know: Todd is a silent super hero. A secret agent of surprise and smiles. A wielder of happiness. Todd comes and goes - usually without being noticed - but what he leaves behind is felt and shared by many.


When I first saw the video, a quote from the Brains on Fire Book immediately came to mind: Be famous for the people who love you and for the way you love them.

With just a few modifications (and a little help from Todd), Coca Cola turned a soda machine into a happiness machine. Not only did they transform the unremarkable act of buying a beverage into a love-love experience between the brand and their fans, they created an infectious love-love-share experience their fans wanted to celebrate together.


Take a little time to reflect today. When was the last time your brand really loved the people who love you? And more importantly, what kind of love will you be famous for?


Originally posted on the Brains on Fire Blog