Building An Authentic Brand That People Believe In

Building a brand that stands for something is challenging––it takes time, and most importantly, authenticity. Most companies hope to impart a positive emotion, or gain immediate recognition, upon someone viewing their logo, hearing their name or considering their story. Zippo is one such company I believe has been able to achieve that goal. 

When people hear the word Zippo, most have immediate brand recognition. Its name and brand persona hold a reputation of tradition and durability that companies and industry leaders can learn a lot from. 

Zippo Conveys Quality and Personality 

Zippo embraces their values throughout the company. Their personality reflects the nature of the brand at its very core. A Zippo lighter is considered an extension of one’s personality, a reflection of their character down to the color and design of the lighter. With personality in mind, they’ve made innovations in their manufacturing processes to emphasize design by making customizations available on their website. Today, Zippo’s “Customize It” feature enables customers to upload any image they want imprinted on their lighter to create a unique Zippo, allowing users to make a statement about who they are and what’s important to them.



 Zippo works each day to ensure that their brand promise shapes their business decisions. They believe quality starts at their roots, and that supporting consumers who share their values is the most effective way to fuel growth. “We believe in communicating quality through our lifetime guarantee policy – ‘It Works or We Fix It Free’ – which is threaded throughout the company.” says Global Marketing Director David Warfel. 

Marketers, entrepreneurs and company executives alike should consider the values that their company operates within before creating a campaign or advertising strategy. By tying efforts to a brand’s promise, the brand message is more meaningful—to the employees, the company and to consumers. 

Zippo Knows How to Communicate Directly with Fans 

Zippo recently created an experience for fans by fans—a campaign inspired by consumer feedback and their long-held company values—#ShareThePain. In response to a growing number of consumers turning to social media to vent about the loss of their Zippo lighters, Zippo launched sharethepain.com and created custom meaningful content unique to Zippo consumers. They engaged with consumers one-on-one via Twitter to commiserate the pain of losing a beloved lighter.

“The results from the campaign have been exceptional and we’ve seen an organic increase of over 8,500 fans on Zippo’s Facebook and Twitter accounts. It is important for the future of the brand to have a strong presence on social media so that we can continue to nurture the relationships we’ve developed with our passionate fan base,” said Warfel.

#ShareThePain is an example of Zippo furthering its investment in consumer insight, knowing where its target audiences live, and engaging with them in meaningful conversation. The key insight is that the entire campaign was built around their values of quality and personality. Other brands can learn from Zippo’s ability to revolve their business around consumer insights. A brand has little relevance if it doesn’t engage, entertain and deliver results for its fans.

In the U.S. alone, Zippo continues to see over 100 tweets each month about lost Zippo lighters. As a brand, this offers Zippo an ongoing opportunity to engage with fans. It also provides an opportunity to learn from their customers and turn feedback into ideas around how to better communicate with them, provide content and services they find most valuable, and continue to drive their brand in a direction that resonates most with consumers. 

Zippo will continue to be a thriving brand because of their authenticity and ability to successfully communicate with consumers. Taking a cue from the Zippos model, companies can learn to build an authentic brand that people believe in.

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