Jelly Bean Branding

Betcha didn’t know that April 22nd was Jelly Bean Day.

Or that jelly beans have been around since at least the time of the Civil War.

As kids, we ate our fill of them every Easter season.  Then they’d pretty much disappear until the next year.

Until somebody thought to do a jelly bean makeover.

Enter Jelly Belly Jelly Beans. 

Now there’s a mouthful.

Is there anyone that doesn’t like these cute little snacklets?

What’s not to like? They’re colorful.  Uniformly shaped.  Polished to a high gloss.   And oh-so-tasty.

Jelly Belly Jelly Beans come in a variety of “gourmet” flavors, amazingly reproduced, that also can be combined to achieve additional flavors (e.g., pineapple + coconut = piña colada).

In a word, they’re perfect.

Except when they’re not.  Because, as it turns out, even Jelly Belly turns out factory seconds.

And what do they do with their imperfect beans?

They turn them into a new marketing opportunity.

They package ’em and sell ’em, poking a bit of fun at themselves, having a bit of fun with us, all the while staying true to their brand.

These were only a buck a bag at the dollar store.  (But only when the company decides to release them, according to the fine print on the package.)

Limited edition Belly Flops.  How cool is that!

So, what’s this little story got to do with your business?  Glad you asked.

Let’s say you’re an appliance or furniture retailer, just to illustrate with a specific category. The nature of your business is such that display merchandise sometimes sustains minor damage, a nick here, a dent there.  Probably there are certain items that have been in your inventory too long and you’d like to put that floor space to more profitable use.  So, you have a clearance sale or a “scratch n’ dent event,” right?  Well, that’s one way of doing it, and in the process you get to sound like every other retailer that’s ever had a similar sale.

Or, you could set aside a little bit of real estate in a corner of the store and brand it.  Round up all those stray “dogs” and put them in this one area.  Make it all yours. Give it a name and personality.  Decorate it with a dog house and some pet pictures and put up a sign that says: “Dog Pound,” because, after all, your ugly dog could be someone else’s cute puppy.  And you use your media advertising and social network channels to promote “Big Dave’s Bad Dogs and Doggone Good Deals” or whatever else you might want to use to call attention to your new clearance center.

Whatever business you’re in, if surplus inventory or distressed merchandise or “factory seconds” are a factor, there’s a good chance you can turn these things into another reason for people to shop your store.  Don’t be afraid to take a chance or to poke fun at yourself.

Hey, you can learn a lot from a jelly bean.



About Rod Schwartz

Rod Schwartz backed into a lifelong career in radio advertising in 1973 in Springfield, Illinois. He joined the Pullman (Wash.) Radio Group in 1979, where he worked until his retirement at the end of 2022. Since 1991, Rod and his family have operated Grace Broadcast Sales (, providing short-form syndicated radio features to radio and TV stations across the U.S. and Canada. Rod also operates an independent advertising, marketing, and communications consultancy for small business owners and professionals, An avid photographer, Rod shares some of his favorite images of the Palouse at and on his Viewbug gallery.
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