Bringing deeper meaning to branding isn’t exactly a groundbreaking idea (see Dove’s “Real Beauty,” Procter & Gamble’s “Thank you mom”, Chipotle’s commitment to Food with Integrity; all of the Google commercials…and almost any other successful effort over the past decade). Meaning is basically a necessary ingredient for branding that works.
But amid the celebrations for the Supreme Court’s decision on gay marriage last week, dozens of brands reacted in an incredibly poignant and noteworthy way—showcasing meaning and emotion and heart.
There was Ben & Jerry’s renaming of Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream to “I Dough, I Dough;” the rainbow that appeared trailing Uber’s vehicle icons as you waited for your ride; Google’s rainbow search bar, Facebook’s rainbow filter to add to profile pictures, and many, many more.
The tone was overwhelmingly consistent—inclusive and celebratory. Each brand just found its own way to express it. And as the responses poured in, they became part of the story.
In retrospect, their sentiment shouldn’t have been surprising. Many of these organizations openly supported gay marriage and partnerships (either in extending employee benefits to same-sex couples, or in publicly signing onto a legal brief in Massachusetts in 2011 asking an appeals court to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act, the law that defined marriage as between a man and a woman for the purposes of federal law).
But there was something about the general outpouring of brand support, and the way they individually marked such a momentous occasion that caused a lot of people—including me—to pause.
It’s difficult to think of another event that triggered such an outpouring of optimism and celebration across industries and brands. Or another opportunity for brands to showcase storytelling for something bigger than themselves.
It was branding at its best—simply connecting, having a conversation, and celebrating what’s right.