If you think branding is just about slapping your logo everywhere, think again. Great branding means developing a personality for your company and finding ways to infuse it into every facet of your firm. Want to see a company living its brand? Let's visit The Happy Company.
Mark Juarez, 44, was a massage therapist in 1992 when he invented a tool designed to stimulate acupressure points in the body. Its differentiator was the big smile he branded on the front of the wooden ball, later named The Happy Massager. It was such a success that Juarez created the company Tender Loving Things Inc.
As tender loving things sought to expand, Juarez found its company name "did not reflect who we were or what we did." Worse, the company name combined with the massaging device as its signature product often gave the erroneous impression that it was an "adult toy" manufacturer-clearly not the impression Juarez desired. "In one sense, the new name was easy," recalls Scott Ogilvie, the company's creative director: "Happy would become our name."
The Happy Company relaunched in 1999 to a very, er, happy reception from customers. Although it might seem to be a simple name change, in reality it transformed the brand personality of the entire company. Happy became the company mascot and appears on the revamped Web site, catalogs and hang tags. The offices were painted a cheery yellow with garden fences built around cubicles. New products were introduced embracing the concept of bringing happiness to the world: Happy Roller massager for feet, Happy Scrubbies bath toys and more. Even the company's required labeling flaunts its brand with the tagline "Made with love in China."
Elizabeth J. Goodgold is CEO and chief nuancer of The Nuancing Group, a brand consulting firm in San Diego.
- The Happy Company
(800) 486-2896, www.thehappycompany.com