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What we can learn about promotion from the Dharma Initiative

I am a huge fan of the show “Lost,” and in honor of the show’s final year on the air, I have found a way to incorporate “Lost” into this blog. My colleague and fellow “Lost” fan, Chris Woolard, has inspired me, as he has done this successfully.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the show, I am not going to delve into the background, characters, and narrative techniques. It would take way too long, and frankly, I don’t think it is really of much relevance.

For all customer program promoting purposes, we are only interested in the Dharma Initiative. The Dharma Initiative is a scientific research project with a large presence on the island. There is a large community of people living on the island. Some people have normal jobs like mechanics, and some people are highly trained scientists working in top-secret research “stations” that have abnormally high electromagnetic charges. You can learn more here. Anyway, the Dharma project is represented by variations of an octagonal logo that appear on most of its products and facilities.

The Dharma Initiative loves to brand their stuff. They brand everything— peanut butter, beer, jumpsuits, highly charged electromagnetic stations – you get the picture. They have a very strong brand identity, which got me to thinking – how does this benefit them? Below are a couple of things I believe we can learn from Dharma’s branding.

•    The power of a logo – Dharma’s octagonal logo is one that stands out.  Its shape and colors (black and white) stick out, and you are sure to recognize it. Also, they have cleverly designed it to have many sub-brands created around the main design. This is most strongly evidenced in using a different symbol in the logo for the ten research stations. You can apply this to your customer listening program by creating one, over-arching logo, and then for each separate initiative you can have similar, yet slightly different variations.

•    Strong internal branding – I believe in Dharma’s case, the almost overkill of branding has served to create a common bond among the people on the island. The people of Dharma are very loyal to it, and it is clear that they all have “buy-in” to Dharma and what it stands for. The same applies to your customer listening program. It is important to have a clear branding message, and to have it displayed prominently. This will help to create buy-in throughout the entire company.

I promise that is my last "Lost" post.

Brianne Drlich
Marketing Communications

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