Robert J. Smith, BBA, MBA, MFA, Ph.D., is a business consultant and founder of Robert J. Smith Productions and Smith Profits.
The Internet Movie Database (IMDb) logline for the hit television show Candid Camera is, “Unsuspecting people are placed in confusing, impossible, embarrassing, ridiculous, and hilarious positions, while their reactions are recorded on a hidden camera.”
There is no doubt that companies that fail to brand their products and services effectively will also find themselves in “confusing, impossible, embarrassing, ridiculous, and hilarious positions.” Brands tell stories. Do you want the story of your business to be a sad one or a happy one? Put a smile on your customers’ faces and you’ll put a smile on your own face.
My brother, Ron, learned this long ago. In fact, as a painter, he begins every job by painting a smile in a prominent place that eventually gets painted over. Nevertheless, that’s Ron’s trademark, and that smile will last as long as each particular building does. Not only that but also Ron provides every customer with what he terms his “all smiles guarantee.” Ron’s smile tells the story of his business. His customers know they can expect to have a happy experience with Ron and his crew members. They know this from referrals and Ron’s reputation. They all come together to tell the story of the painting business.
What’s your business story? The first part of your story that potential customers see is your company logo. I believe this is why so many successful companies place smiles in their logos. Here are some well-known examples of brands that use imagery representative of smiles:
• Colgate’s branding makes the most sense, as it promotes its products as solutions to more beautiful smiles.
• Amazon may be the most famous logo with a smile on it.
• Dannon/Danone gave its health-focused foods a logo boost to help people smile.
• Kraft Mac & Cheese took things a step further and turned a macaroni noodle into a smile.
We were so impressed with the statistics on providing subliminal smiles in branding that we upgraded our RobertJSmith.com, Smith Profits, Robert J. Smith Productions and Smith Comics logos with upward curves that represent smiles as well.
Lay’s took smiles seriously in a campaign called “The Smile Stories” to help make lives better. Here is an excerpt from the Now This website: “Lay’s is celebrating people across the country who inspire smiles in their communities in extraordinary ways … Each Smile with Lay’s bag you buy helps us reach our goal of a $1 million donation to Operation Smile – a nonprofit that changes and saves lives one smile at a time.”
Operation Smile takes smiles seriously as well. However, smiles are not a for-profit business for Operation Smile as it is for Frito-Lay and Colgate. Operation Smile operates as a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization that provides life-improving cleft surgery, dentistry, orthodontics, speech therapy and psychological services. This organization makes me think of a young girl named Veda Roznowski, who this article is dedicated to. She passed away at the tender age of one due to complications from anesthesia at a local hospital during a surgery Operation Smile specializes in.
“Let us always meet each other with a smile, for the smile is the beginning of love,” Mother Teresa is known to have said.
The world’s largest companies have leveraged the emotions of happiness and love in their branding and advertising campaigns to elicit feelings of unity which greatly influence our buying decisions.
“Have a Coke and a Smile” is one example. The world’s largest soft drink manufacturer had great success with its campaign of togetherness and symmetry, which culminated in the huge success of its Mean Joe Greene Super Bowl ad that featured his fictional meeting with a young fan.
Even the word “smile” can sell without anyone actually seeing a smiling face. Dean Martin, Doris Day and many others sold a massive number of records with the song “Powder Your Face with Sunshine.” “Powder your face with sunshine,” the lyrics say. “Put on a great big smile. Make up your eyes with laughter. Folks will be laughing with you in a little while. Whistle a tune of gladness. Blue never was in style. The future’s brighter when hearts are lighter. So, smile, smile, smile.”
Dozens of artists sold records with the song “When You’re Smiling,” which was first published in 1928. “When you’re smiling, when you’re smiling, the whole world smiles with you,” the lyrics say. “When you’re laughing, when you’re laughing, the sun comes shining through. But when you’re crying, you bring on the rain. So stop your sighing, be happy again. Keep on smiling, ’cause when you’re smiling, the whole world smiles with you.”
Of course, Smile was the album the Beach Boys abandoned in 1967. When Brian Wilson resurrected Smile in 2004, he earned his first Grammy with one of its tracks, and Brian Wilson Presents Smile reached No. 13 in the U.S. and No. 7 in the U.K. (paywall). BWPS also landed in Rolling Stone’s “500 Greatest Albums Of All Time.”
“A smile is the best makeup any girl can wear,” Marilyn Monroe is famously attributed with saying.
Here’s the best news: Research has shown that you don’t even need an obvious, full-blown smile. An upward curve does the trick. We’ve updated our logos at Smith Profits with upward curves across the board, and we’re having a record fourth quarter as a result.
A combined research study in Colombia and the United Kingdom said that “these findings provide both a deeper theoretical understanding of the influence of subtle cues on evaluation and decision making, and concrete, practical information for both product designers and marketers.”
Don’t fail to brand your company’s products and services effectively and find yourself in “confusing, impossible, embarrassing, ridiculous, and hilarious positions.” Instead, brand your products and services effectively, and you’ll always smile, whether you are on camera or not.
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