Strategic branding

Branding Honesty

Sam Frentzel-Beyme Follow Managing Partner & Strategy Director

The Short of It

  • Great campaigns will leave the brand fundamentally stronger than it was before.
  • Generating data can be useful to facilitate a dialogue around a core theme.
  • Making information accessible and interactive helps allow people to build their own interpretations.

National Honesty Index from National Honesty Index on Vimeo. The National Honesty Index is a interesting project put together by Honest Tea in order to determine the most honest cities in America. To gather their data they conducted experiments in 30 cities using unmanned pop-up stores where people were asked to pay $1 on the honor system if they took a bottle of tea. Here are some key highlights:

The 5 Least Honest Cities (% people who paid)

  • 16th Street Mall, Denver: 80%
  • Venice Beach, Los Angeles: 76%
  • Atlantic Terminal, Brooklyn: 61%
  • Chelsea Piers, New York City: 77%
  • Southside, Chicago: 82%

The 5 Most Honest Cities

  • San Francisco, CA: 97%
  • Oakland, CA: 100%
  • Salt Lake City, UT: 100%
  • Boulder, CO: 99%
  • Seaside Heights, NJ: 97%

In addition to just being interesting (although not completely scientific), the Honesty Index is a great example of how to run a viral campaign. Here are three takeaways for your next project:

1. Keep it relevant to your brand: 

Great campaigns will leave the brand fundamentally stronger than it was before. While I haven’t done any testing, my feeling is that the Honesty Index helps position Honest Tea as a company and product that one can trust. In 2011, cities with the experiment saw double-digit growth, so it looks like the campaign theme was important enough to consumers to help keep Honest Tea top of mind during purchasing decisions.

2. Generate real data: 

Generating a lot of real data is time consuming and expensive. But the payoff is that you can create a more objective source of information around which conversations can be framed. The goal is not to be right, but to facilitate a dialogue around a core theme. This allows everyone to take an interest and participate in converting facts into information and information into stories that can be shared.

3. UX (user experience) is not an afterthought: 

Once the data was generated, Honest Tea could have just uploaded a big list and called it a day. This would have picked up some interest, but not nearly as much as they have by making the data extremely interactive and accessible. Most people aren’t comfortable crunching large data sets, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have interest in the data or that they don’t understand the relevance. Making information accessible and interactive helps create a tool that allows others to build their own interpretations and creates more opportunities for conversations to be started. I mean, who would have thought this:

And what about the value of a project like this?

So far, the latest campaign has 169,000 Facebook Likes (according to one report on Social Media Today these Fans are likely to spend more than double on a product with 74% being “likely to recommend” compared to 38% for non-Likes). In 2011, the report garnered 280 million impressions, 160 press stories, $2.79 million in earned media, double-digit sales growth in cities where they held the experiments (via Social Times).

Overall, probably not a bad investment for Honest Tea – especially if this data helps some of the lowest ranked cities start looking for ways to get themselves higher up the list.

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