Warm Blanket Award #5: Hallmark
Companies that have been around forever face the risk of looking their age. The key to longevity is to stick to what you're known for, but evolve to meet new consumer demand. Few companies do it well. The winners that come to mind are Coach, Disney, HP, Avon and...Hallmark. Founded in 1910, Hallmark precedes these other long-timers by more than a decade, making their relevance to today's customer all the more notable.
Remember "when you care enough to send the very best"? A great tagline for earlier times. Hallmark has wisely evolved to "A card. It's the biggest little thing you can do." Their line of 99 cent cards supports this notion that a tiny bit of effort -- and outlay of cash -- can make a difference in someone's life. Such a smart shift in understanding your customer. Moms want to do it all, but fall short due to the demands of life. Hallmark's print and TV spots show a keen understanding of this dilemma, offering beautifully presented examples of how a well-timed card can deliver boosts like Appreciation, Confidence, and Guts in the chaos of everyday life.
Hallmark's forward-thinking marketing doesn't end with creative. They consistently push the envelope (pardon the pun) with format and innovation. They introduced musical cards, and now offer DVD holiday greetings, mobile greetings, an address-book builder to facilitate holiday mailings, a line of mom-to-mom cards which encourage "proudly imperfect moms," same-sex marriage cards, and recordable storybooks, a grandparent's dream product so desirable that it sold out before Christmas. So many innovations from a company that could easily have rested on their laurels and become Harvard Business School's ultimate case study in fuddy-duddiness. I surprised even myself when visiting a Hallmark Gold Crown store; I found there gorgeous embossed stationery (I'm a major paper snob and letterpress fan), a line of RED cards supporting the Global Fund for AIDS, even martini glasses.
On that note, I raise a glass to Hallmark, recipient of this month's Warm Blanket Award for marketing to moms masterfully.