6 Branding Lessons We Can Learn From the Ice Bucket Challenge


Over 3 million buckets of ice water have been dumped on people’s heads in recent months. They’ve been captured and shared on social media for the whole world to see. All of this for the cause of ALS – three letters that make the world of difference in the lives of the few affected by it, but that meant very little to the millions who knew nothing about it a few months ago.

So what does dumping a bucket of water have anything to do with ALS? A few months ago? Absolutely nothing. Now? Everything. Successful branding is being able to connect intimately with your audience. It’s an experience that you can and want to associate with. In this particular case, it’s the emotional connection of not wanting to be the only one left out. It’s about the power of inclusion.


Even Bill Gates knows it’s lonely at the top.

Here’s something I learned about the Ice bucket challenge that speaks to the power of suggestion. I believe that the Ice Bucket Challenge became as big as it did because of celebrity endorsement. We can’t deny the influence and power of suggestion of those who are in the limelight. I believe the biggest challenge for ALS was to find someone famous to do the challenge and have them nominate other famous people. After that, the trickle effect was unstoppable. People then trying to outdo each other by coming up with bigger and more elaborate ways of performing the challenge and celebrities like Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Charlie Sheen and Patrick Stewart even came up with some creative ways of making a donation. Even Fusebox’s own Matt Cook put together his own creative spin on it:


So what did all of this do for ALS? It finally put a disease that aggressively affects a small percentage of the population on a global map and gave it a face and personality. This campaign addresses the ultimate need of man – the need to belong. The win-win scenario is that even if you couldn’t or didn’t want to donate to ALS, you had a way of taking part in the movement and feel like you made a difference somehow.

Here are some key attributes that made the campaign successful and helped brand ALS:

1. It was an original idea to social media
2. It was easy to execute
3. It had a viral component by challenging friends
4. It had a great entertainment factor
5. It was endorsed and executed by reliable sources
6. Most important: It evoked a sense of inclusion and belonging

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge campaign gave ALS a tactical way of creating awareness and occupying some space in the mind of the public. When you think of “Movember”, what comes to mind? What about “Run for the Cure”? Now, every time you’ll hear “The Ice Bucket Challenge”, you’ll have a clear picture of what the challenge means.

That is the power of branding at it’s best. Now let’s all make a donation and help fight ALS:

Make a donation at www.als.ca/en/donate

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