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When companies do more than advertise

Every brand is inherently different from the rest, each fills a unique need or desire for consumers. But being a little distinct isn’t always enough to stay top-of-mind or drive sales — strong brands extend beyond product or service and communicate a story that means more than what customers bring home.

These eight brands bring value to customers, involving them in product development, rewarding loyalty, building partnerships or giving back to communities. These companies stand for more than just selling goods — and their stance carries over into tangible, real-world action.

The best foot forward

TOMS Shoes operates according to a “one for one” model, donating a pair of TOMS Shoes to a child in need for every pair sold. To grow that community, TOMS has expanded into eyewear, coffee and bags — they now donate glasses and water to those in need and help safe birthing services. Today TOMS produces one-third of its Giving Shoes in regions where products are donated, creating jobs and further improving lives.

Straight to the source

The Apple Beta Software Program invites consumers to test and improve the tech leader’s software while they are developing it. Membership empowers Apple product owners to directly influence the final release through the program’s Feedback Assistant app, as bugs, issues and pain-points come to light before going out to millions of users. This goes beyond focus groups and internal audiences and helps Apple hear exactly what customers want.

A more colorful day

Crayola Experience standalone stores are destinations for consumers to have fun as the brand showcases products. Art Alive! displays kids’ Crayola drawings on the touchscreens and brings them to animated life. Wrap it Up! lets visitors name colors and package products for custom souvenirs. Café Crayola spotlights the array of product colors in its dining experience. The three Crayola Experience locations are a great time for families and positions the brand as an innovative and creative resource.

An occasion to celebrate

Amazon doesn’t have to be the only online retailer with its own holiday — Wayfair now has Way Day, an April sales event that coincides with the fresh spring season. Prices rival traditional Black Friday savings with free shipping and spotlighted items to help consumers with spring cleaning, entertaining and moving.

Banding together

Brands clamor to stand out during the busy back-to-school buying season. To do just that, American Eagle and Dormify partnered for exclusive bedding collections. More than any other time in a young person’s life, college is an opportunity to reinvent themselves. American Eagle and Dormify have that audience in common, and rise to the occasion annually with value for customers while amplifying their brands.

Getting to know you

MyGNC PRO Access is a premium subscription service for those who want to get the most of their relationship with GNC. With free shipping, members-only sales and personalized monthly PRO boxes, the $39.99 annual fee enhances a customer’s lifestyle and generates revenue. Samples, coupons and stock items are customized for each recipient, going way beyond a blanket loyalty program for everyone.

The exclusivity of place

Starbucks has taken a familiar brand to tens of thousands of locations globally. But the coffee giant understands how important it is to recognize what’s going on right outside each shop’s doors. Starbucks has developed a series of “You Are Here” mugs, for each city. Customers now seek out Starbucks locations as they travel to buy mugs they can’t get anywhere else, making these limited edition wares a hot commodity.

When stars align

Through collaborations, brands can push the boundaries of how the public perceives them. When Tommy Hilfiger partners with Gigi Hadid, each fashion icon becomes more. Their combined collections range from daring rock ‘n’ roll style to adventurous nautical ware. With plenty of room in the spotlight, Gigi’s fans see how good Hilfiger’s clothes can look with her as his model, and Tommy’s customers are now aware of Hadid’s brand and work. The inspiration flows both ways, as do the ensuing profits.

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