What you can learn from the re-branding of carrots

Babycarrots
Everybody knows you should eat carrots. And we wish our kids would eat carrots instead of corn chips.

A recent article in Fast Company shows how someone is getting kids (and grownups) to eat carrots: How Carrots Became the New Junk Food.

They did something weird and utterly brilliant: They re-branded carrots. Specifically, they made baby carrots (which are really skinned and chopped down regular carrots) seem like junk food. Here’s what one TV spot for carrots looks like:

A skater dude rides a jet-powered shopping cart through a desert pass, dodging baby-carrot gunfire. Things blow up. There’s a pterodactyl. “Extreme pterodactyl!” the voice-over yells.

It’s working. Sales of these junk food versions of baby carrots are way up.

I can imagine the reaction of “carrot activists” (no doubt there is such a person). They’re not happy, because this junk food branding of carrots is inaccurate! Carrots are good because they’re good for you. One large carrot provides 41% of your daily requirement of Vitamin A. They’re grown by family farmers who respect the Earth. They are the opposite of junk food. It’s off brand!

Does that sound familiar?

If it does, you’re probably a fundraising professional who’s been through a branding exercise.

Like my imaginary carrot activists, many people at nonprofits get all wrapped up in their “product” as it looks to them. They sometimes build complex brand personalities around the insiders’ view of what they do.

They forget that people outside the organization aren’t in awe of the process and inner workings — and never will be. They ignore the fact that you don’t need to think the way an insider does to be a generous donor.

So they market wrong. And stay artificially small.

If they’d think the way the carrot people did and ask, What do people who might buy actually want? — that’s how they could grow.

The way to get lots of people to support your cause may be to make it look very, very strange to your insiders. It’s likely that the better it works in the marketplace, the more alien — even hateful — it might be to those in the know. That’s why so few nonprofits do this. It’s why so many re-brandings are actually aimed at pleasing staff rather than reaching donors.

I dare you to find your version of the junk-food carrot. Remember, they didn’t actually turn carrots into junk food. The carrots are just as wonderful as they always were. They just started selling them to match the way people buy things.

(This post first appeared on May 10, 2011.)


Comments

Leave a Reply

What this blog is about

The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

Blog policies

Subscribe

Get new posts by email:

About the blogger

Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


Archives

Blogroll

Categories


Search the blog

The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

Recent Comments

About the blogger

Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

Blog Roll

someone’s blog