Steve Baird and I attended the FUSE Design & Culture // Brand Strategy & Packaging Conference in Chicago last week. We learned from many enlightening speakers and met an impressive collection of design and marketing professionals. I felt like a kid in a candy store with all of the wonderful ideas and images. As a lawyer, I saw many opportunities for trademark, copyright and patent protection and enforcement. Several presenters stood out to me regarding developing connections with your audience—relationship marketing.

targetlogoFirst, Target, one of our local brands, inspires incredible loyalty. In addition to purchasing everyday items such as Kleenex and paper towels there, I also now buy fashion apparel and groceries at Target.

You may recall Target’s ad campaign during the recession that fostered a connection between Target and its guests (a reference also used by Disney to refer to its patrons). The ad began with a woman buying a dress at Target to wear on a date, and then took the audience along on her playful date. The couple got married and bought a house (purchasing many items at Target). The next scene showed the woman wearing a Target maternity dress. In a symmetrical ending, the ad concluded with her toddler wearing a Target dress. This ad provided comfort that Target guests can have a long-term relationship with Target, knowing the brand will be there for every step of life, even during the stress of an economic recession. This is but one example of Target’s masterful marketing and advertising.

Target also enhances the relationship that guests feel with the stores by giving back to the local community. This touched home with me when I attended the Sanneh Foundation’s Gala 4 Goals in February, and Target team members were volunteering at the fundraiser.

Second, the revitalization of MR. CLEAN® by the internal team at Procter & Gamble and the outside agency was another presentation topic.

The project began with Facebook uncovering that women felt a connection to the iconic bald guy with the earring and white t-shirt. He is strong and cleans. What’s not to love about that? The advertising communicates a back story for the MR. CLEAN® character so the audience could more easily feel a stronger connection to him. Check out his Facebook site with its posts and more than 485,000 likes.

Third, the presentation about the FISHER-PRICE® brand was also about relationships. The Fisher Price company had obtained enough sub-brands to fill up a full screen. In doing so, the main FISHER-PRICE® brand itself had gotten lost in the clutter. It was confusing for consumers. Most people growing up in the United States (at least), grew up and/or have a child that has used FISHER-PRICE® products. This strong relationship with the FISHER-PRICE® brand was getting lost in the barrage of sub-brands. Accordingly, the Fisher Price company made a decision to streamline the amount of brand names and focus attention on the main and popular FISHER-PRICE® brand, with the built‑in relationship from childhood.

These are merely three examples from so many great presentations given at FUSE. It was nice to spend time with such creative and exciting design people.

What are your favorite relationship building ads?