Martin (Marty) Smith
July 14, 2014

5 Great Movement Brands To Learn From

Chic-fil-a Movement Brands


5 Movement Brands

Movements gather scale and membership over time. Campaigns, offers and sales don’t scale. The “never ending sale” trains shoppers to wait and expect more discounts, deeper discounts and better discounts. Discounting is crying wolf. Cry wolf enough and there may be a wolf but no one cares.

Care, passion, emotional engagement and advocacy come from connection. Connection comes from trust. People trust movement brands more. This post is about 5 great “Movement Brands”. Learn tips, tricks and secrets from these 5 brands to convert your campaigns, offers and sales into a movement people join, advocate and share.

Chick-fil-a Logo

Movement Brand #1: Chic-fil-a

Mothers, fathers and children were dressed like cows. The annual “Dress Like A Cow, Get A Free Meal” Day at the Chic-fil-a near my apartment in Durham, NC was underway. Hundreds packed the tiny store snapping pictures, laughing and enjoying a free meal dressed as a cow.

I know great “Movement Branding” when I see it. Chic-fil-a’s “eat mor chikin” movement shares key elements associated with movement branding such as:

  • Humor – Have a sense of self-deprecating humor.
  • Enemies or Friends – Create around an enemy or a friend (cows in the case of the crafty Chic-fil-a).
  • Events – Supplement with events that make an other wise elite “inside joke” shared such as “dress like a cow” day.
  • Children – Create roles for every family member with an emphasis on children.
  • Join – Movements require joiners and the first to join and believe should be anyone working for the company.

It’s no mistake Chic-fil-a’s staff joins in wearing cow ears and one lucky employee gets to be Chic-fil-a cow.

Disney Pixar logo

Movement Brands 2: Disney / Pixar

Two personal stories share two other important “Movement Brand” characteristics – Executive Passion & Surprise. “He bent down and picked up a wrapper,” Randy Webb the VP of Sales at M&M/Mars was sharing a story about Frank Wells then President of Disney (late eighties). Walking Randy around Disneyland Mr. Wells didn’t let the chance to pick up a stray wrapper pass by.

Frank Wells was talking to Randy and M&M/Mars about becoming the Official Snack Food of “the park” (Disneyland in Florida). Frank Wells’ personal passion was clear in his automatic unthinking passion to  keep Disneyland clean. Disneyland, like Chic-fil-a, creates a “virtual family”. Randy and M&M/Mars felt honored to pay millions to be part of Frank’s family.

Pixar surprised me. Pixar, run by Steve Jobs when this happened, mailed Toy Story posters unsolicited and free because I owned a tiny amount of Pixar stock. Brilliant “surprise marketing”. I gave the posters to Max, my then “nephew in-law”. Max loved the posters, told all his friends and insisted his mother take him to the movie.

Pixar realized a huge benefit from a network of supporters most ignore or take for granted. Stock holders voted with their money. They joined Pixar’s tribe. Advocacy and love can be hard to find.

Pixar shot fish already swimming in their barrel. We all have “unrealized networks” or “barrels” waiting to be asked to help. Realizing the power trapped in these “unrealized networks” is what Pixar did when they spent $20 to mail Toy Story posters to stock owners.

Movement brands like Disney & Pixar TAP the “unrealized networks” others ignore. One of the reasons we are creating our Startup Factory funded startup called Curagami is to help online marketers tap “unrealized networks”.

Red Bull Bulletin covers

Movement Brand #3: Red Bull Bulletin

I’ve written extensively about Red Bull’s Branding Lessons. Red Bull understands one of the key ingredients to creating a “Movement Brand” in the internet era – FOLLOW and BRAND THEM where “them” are your customers, contributors and advocates.

New Branding Diagram Curatti

By becoming great curators of their customer’s extreme achievements Red Bull effectively brands “extreme” and makes billions to invest in ideas such as their Red Bull Bulletin magazine. Red Bull’s “Movement” is EXTREME and the apply that label liberally to the arts, sports and culture brilliantly.

American Red Cross

Movement Brand #4: American Red Cross

The American Red Cross creates HOPE when all seems lost. The Red Cross has courage to move toward “disaster” with confidence and courage. Much like firemen or police the American Red Cross goes toward areas and situations most flee.

Not hard to find emotionally resonant, powerful and engaging stories, but few have the courage to pay the freight – help first and worry about all else later. Movement brands need to put ego in their back-pocket and look to help and create community above all else.

Coca Cola Classic Brand logo

Movement Brand #5: Coca Cola

Perhaps the grandfather of all “Movement Brands” Coke stands alone in their ability to make so much out of so little. In Coke’s capable storytelling hands sugar, water and caffeine become a movement of smiles,  “this is what home looks like” nostalgia and the definition of “join us” marketing.

Not hard to understand why Coca Cola has taken to social media like ducks to water. Coke’s marketing is and has always been community focused. The Pepsi Challenged proved Pepsi tastes better. Taste isn’t why Pepsi couldn’t move coke’s tribe to switch. Only Coke, with their New Coke marketing fiasco, could prove why those who’ve joined Coke didn’t switch.

Taste is less important than movement membership.

What about you? What are your favorite movement brands?

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Passionate cancer survivor, Internet marketer and former Director of Ecommerce who believes in Margaret Mead's quote, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." Glad to be an "Editor of Chaos".

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