Names and Networking: Coca-Cola Teaches Us Manners and Business
In June 2014, Coca-Cola first rolled out their friendly “Share a Coke” campaign in the U.S. The campaign originated in Australia during the summer of 2011 and quickly spread internationally before eventually reaching American soil. People started seeing Cokes in grocery and convenience stores with different names on the label, in both can and plastic bottle form. The labels read, “Share a Coke with” and then a name printed in large letters beneath. These weren’t just typical names, like the ones you find on key chains at tourist shops. Coca-Cola did a fine job executing the labels with a variety of names, from common to uncommon. They even used “Buddy”, “Friend”, “BFF”, “Pal”, and other general nicknames. These Cokes were the perfect icebreaker; they were a way to say hello or thank you, a way to flirt, a way to connect, a way to make a friend.
This campaign covered a number of factors in the business world: branding, advertising, and networking. The social media factor was a homerun. Coca-Cola personalized their product and found a way to make consumers feel like friends. In September, Coca-Cola ran an advertisement called, “The Happiest Thank You,” which was a 3-minute commercial in the Philippines describing people recognizing others. For example, in the commercial there is a grocery-bagging young man, a woman working a toll booth, and a male desk receptionist at a condominium complex. The Philippines residents all talk about how these people they see on a daily basis are so kind to them, always have a smile on their face and treat them with respect. At the end of the commercial, the people are asked what the names of the helpers are. The people look embarrassed. They smile and look down. They don’t know their names.
What if we took a minute out of our day to ask these people what their names were, so we could thank them?
The commercial closes with the Philippine people (after being informed what the names of the helpers were) going around to their kind strangers and giving them a Coke with their real and sometimes unusual names on them. One person even buys two Cokes, to give to the grocery-bagging young man, with his first and last name. The reactions are priceless. The helper’s smile and laugh, saying, “How did you know my name?”. This commercial could be staged for all we know but it sends a powerful message that can be used not only in the social life but also in the business world.
Networking is a significant part of the professional world and it is how most businesses grow their client base. Have you ever read an article explaining to you the importance of remembering someone’s name when they shake your hand and introduce themselves? It is something so easy to do but so hard to remember. This first impression can reflect strongly on you as a person and on the business you are representing. Personalizing a product or remembering a person’s name can show a huge effort from a business standpoint.
The takeaway? Be more attentive when you’re out on a business lunch, when you’re networking, when you’re at a conference or when you’re meeting with potential clients. Get their business cards, phone number, email, or other contact information. Make them feel like they are important and that you will remember them. It can do wonders for your business.