Blog Post

Branding and MArketing insights

Ugly but Rich: A Brand Masterclass by Stanley

How did a 100 year-old product jump from $74 million in 2019 to $750 million in 2023?

Spoiler alert: it's not about the product.
Apr 9th, 2024
2 min read
Community Over Product1. People Trust People2. Old but New3. Speed & Reactivity4. Brand is Slow but Pays5. Cultural ContagionConclusion
In the last few years, we've seen quite a few weird products thrive...canned water, flamethrowers, and even JPG art fetching millions.

Yet, Stanley's remarkable brand success stands out as one of the most extraordinary business stories in centuries.

Here's how an ugly, not innovative, not unique, very old product became the most desired water container in the world:
Like Stanley, brands that focus on fostering a sense of belonging and identity among their users can transcend the physical value of their products.

What's immediately obvious C this brand is that It's not just about owning a Stanley cup; it's about being part of a broader narrative that celebrates sustainability, health, and collective identity.

This is the perfect representation of a brand, not a business.

But how did they do it? Let's break it down in 5 key points:
1. People trust people:
Stanley's explosion in popularity was significantly boosted by TikTok, highlighting the power of digital platforms in creating and amplifying brand narratives.

Content creators and customers became brand ambassadors, weaving personal stories that resonated deeply with their audiences.

They set the brand free into the wild, empowering people to create and share content, something that worked magnificently and leads us to the next key factor:
2. Old but new:
The once blue-collar cup, founded in 1913 in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, has remained relevant by introducing innovative marketing strategies without altering the core product's quality.

The phrase "If it ain't broken, don't fix it" resonates well with the marketing and product teams, who understood that this old but gold product needed the perfect balance of tradition and innovation to stay relevant even after 111 years.
Challenges such as customer concerns and competitive criticisms were addressed transparently, which further reinforced brand trust.

Stanley's ability to adeptly handle potential setbacks underscores the importance of being responsive and responsible.

Moreover, they demonstrated incredible reactivity to real-life opportunities. For instance, when a customer's car burned down but her Stanley cup inside not only survived the flames but still contained ice, the incident was shared on social media.

The CEO responded not only by replacing her cup but also by buying her a new car.

This smart move is a prime example of seising the moment for brand promotion, blending a genuine act of kindness with a powerful message about the product's durability.

Stanley knows that every day and every moment is a great opportunity to build your brand!
4. Brand is slow but pays:
Stanley's gradual and steady ascent to success is a testament to the value of building brand affinity over time.

Instant success is rare and often unsustainable.

Brands should focus on gradually building a loyal customer base through consistent quality and engagement.
5. Cultural Contagion:
Stanley's emergence as a 'cultural contagion' showcases the power of a brand to not only participate in but actively shape cultural conversations and identities.

This level of engagement is something competitors are striving to emulate. It demonstrates the power of branding, where a 111-year-old product can generate millions in revenue by becoming a cultural phenomenon.

This strategic cultural alignment turns everyday products into icons.
Stanley's journey is a masterclass in brand resilience and relevance.

It teaches us that true brand strength lies not in the novelty of the product but in the emotional and cultural resonance it achieves with its audience.

As marketers, embracing these principles can lead to enduring brand loyalty and unprecedented growth.