Category: Uncategorized

3M into the next 50

3M has been in business since 1902, so they have been successful for over 100 years.  They are not always the flashiest or trendy, but they know what their audience wants and they are successful at getting it to them.  A large factor of why the company has been successful I believe is their acceptance of being “green” and being a big supporter of making sure their corporation is friendly towards the environment.  The company’s homepage says that a large contributing factor towards their success at being an environmentally stable company that produces products that limit pollution as much as possible is their research and development sector.  There has been almost no controversy with the company in the past century they have been in business.  This is especially a big factory with their company’s view towards pollution because a vast majority of their products are made from plastics.  The corporation researches ways to use less plastic in each of their products.  They way they are made is also a big factor, the factories comply with pollution regulation and are mindful about what those factories put out into the air.  3M also helps other businesses to be more friendly to the environment as well.  A few years ago the corporation helped other businesses to incinerate the waste from their factories.  This was a more environmentally friendly thing to do than to put their waste products into landfills.

3M-Logo-RGB-Pro-Size

Another factory of why the 3M corporation has been so successful in the past 100 years and will hopefully make it just as successfully through the next 50 is how the company has a focus on being local and maintaining local connections.  3M takes ownership and pride in the communities where their corporate branches are located.   They do this by not only being a provider of jobs for the community, but also through the extra contributing factors, such as the development of the town through supporting education and the environment.

I think this type of involvement in the community is very important.  A lot of a person’s day, and life, is spent at their job and it is a good thing if the place they work makes them happy.  A vast majority of the employee reviews who work for 3M say that they enjoy the place where they work.  This enjoyment creates a sense of ownership and responsibility for the place they work.  These employees want to see their workplace succeed.

The 3M company’s homepage says the company is proud of its ability to create products that solve their customer’s problems and also makes their lives easier.

The company’s products are also innovative and ahead of many others in the field, and they are in a wide sector of different markets.

http://seekingalpha.com/article/1290521-3m-future-remains-bright

http://solutions.3m.com/wps/portal/3M/en_WW/History/3M/Company/century-innovation/

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Facebooking-it

A lot of the social media and branding used by the 3M company is protected and you have to be an employee to see it.  I think this is probably a good idea to keep that information within the company.  I wonder what the strategies are that they do use though.  On the website where they explain that the information is protected, they also have this quote, “Our brand is more than our name and our logo. Our brand is the outward expression of the promises we make to our customers‚ our powerful culture of innovation and the ideas and values that make us who we are.”

 The website also has examples of some social media pages.  They all look very neat and clean and simple. 

 When looking for a 3M sponsored Facebook page, it was very hard to find.  I saw several other accounts and even Brazil’s Facebook before I found the United State’s official 3M page.

 Recently, the 3M’s United States Facebook page has posted about how they support “Small Business Saturday.”  Posts like that are important to engage the audience, so the brand is not just pushing out content and promoting their own products.  I believe that doing things like that makes the audience tune out of the posts.  It is similar to having a friend who only talks about themselves, the habit itself is annoying and kind of makes you like the friend a little less too.

 3M also has a Twitter that I think is a bit more interesting than their Facebook page.  They tweet about their products and about current events and days that are happening both worldwide with the brand and locally where 3M is headquartered in St. Paul, Minnesota.  I liked one thread of tweets they had about a story the local news station, KARE11 did about a donation the company made. 

Image

I think what they are doing with social media is effective for the company’s goals and what their focus is.  They are a bit of a unique company because they do sell primarily household and business items.  It might be somewhat difficult to make a compelling and interesting social media site for a company that makes tape and Command Hooks.  I think they’re doing a good job though.  Their campaign in early January of this year with the user-generated content is a great example of the good things they are doing with social media.  They took their product and let people be creative with it.  They were a platform for their users to show their creativity, and they did.  I think businesses are to the point with social media where they understand how to use it and have a little better of an idea of what their users want to see of their social media pages.  

Minnesota Roots

3M is in the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and the Pacific.  Their headquarters are in St. Paul Minnesota.  They operate their business in over 70 different countries, but their products are in almost 200 different countries.  In those countries,  3M operates manufacturing facilities, laboratory research centers, advertising sites, distribution offices, and a series of corporate headquarters.

The organization began their international operations in the year of 1951.  Half of the manufacturing of 3M’s products takes place in the United States.  There are only 28 states in the United States where this product manufacturing takes place.  The other places where 3M manufactures their products are in the west part of Europe, Japan, and parts of Canada.  Around a third of the organization’s total business takes place in the United States.  This number is expected to rise however in the near future according to the company’s annual report and projections.  A large part about why this is the case is because, according to that annual report, Most of the research and development of the organization also happens in the United States.

The annual report issued by 3M also stated that the organization strives to localize their brand and their company in the international markets.  The organization says that they believe this method will give them an advantage over other companies trying to achieve similar goals in the common markets.  They say that they believe this can be accomplished by starting to build new buildings that would counteract competition from other businesses in the international marketplace.  It is also important to have employees that understand what the market is like in the region where the company hopes to conduct business.  This knowledge of the employees is part of the reason why 3M has been successful with their global business is because of the local talent hired by the company.  This provides them with a local insight about what works in each individual international marketplace.  They say that their aim is to make the company seem ‘borderless.’  One of the ways that the organization accomplishes this is through their way of targeting products to their consumers.  This means that the products are sold in the same region where they are manufactured.

I think this method makes a lot of sense.  It would cut down on transportation and distribution costs and allow the company to focus solely on manufacturing the products.  I also think finding people in the market where they want to expand is a good idea because they would obviously know it better than anyone else.  I don’t think 3M’s international businesses are necessarily taking away jobs from the United States because the international businesses are selling locally to the people in the region.

 

 

http://solutions.3m.com/3MContentRetrievalAPI/BlobServlet?lmd=1370013363000&locale=en_WW&assetType=MMM_Image&assetId=1319229751200&blobAttribute=ImageFile

http://waysandmeans.house.gov/uploadedfiles/3m_company_wg_comment.pdf

You Post-it

3M is a company that supplies mostly business and home supplies.  The focus of the advertisements for the demographic is on creating a simple and clean look.  This works for the demographic because their products are to make life for those in business and working in the home simpler.

 

3M has a special demographic with one specific product line of theirs.  The Command Hooks brand is specifically for young homeowners and college students, though they do have other customers who use the command hooks.  The command hooks are designed to be a cheap way to hang things in places that cannot have permanent holes from nails.  They target this demographic because the command hooks are cheap and accessible.  They also have an impact on this demographic with where they place their products, they put them out in the isles of Wal-Marts around move in time for colleges.

 

The Christmas crowd demographic is also big for the Command Hook brand.  They advertise to those looking to hang up their Christmas lights using Command Hook brand products.  They also procure on making their product simple and making things simpler for the people who use them.

 

3M is also after a new demographic that is part of an advertising campaign that involves user generated content.  Earlier this year in January, Post-it notes started an advertising campaign that demonstrated the creativity of those who used it.  3M spent around an estimated $10 million on the campaign.  It let users of Post-it notes show their creativity using the product.

 

This was a different approach than what is typically done with advertisements, where the company puts out work for the consumers to see.  It let users of Post-it notes do creative things with the product, like make art, and even wedding proposals.

 

I think the demographic of this campaign was young people who probably do use the product a lot for its original purpose, to write notes.  The campaign asked these young people to look at their product in a different way and to use it to be creative.  I remember seeing some of the commercials on television, since those were also included in the campaign, and being surprised with them.  I think this would have also generated a lot of buzz on social media sites.

 

The name for this type of user generated product content is called customization.  It is targeted towards 20 to 30 year old consumers.  It works well for them because they feel that they are a part of the brand and it feels more personal to them.  It also calls to look at brands that have been around for the lifetime of this generation to look at them in a different way.  Sharpie also did a similar campaign with their markers.

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/28/business/mutfund/3m-says-go-ahead-make-something-of-it.html?_r=0

3M’s Logo Changes

The most common imagery used by 3M to sell their products is their bright red logo.  This is used on every single product they sell, and it is everywhere.  The company has over 50,000 products and the logo is always on each one.  3M is a parent company to a variety of different other companies including Command Hooks, Scotch tape, Scotch Blue, and Nexcare.  With all of those products, they always have the traditional 3M logo on them.

Their logo has not changed very much, especially considering that the company has been functioning for 100 years.  The design changes through the years remind me of Ford or Coco-Cola’s logo changes through their over 100 years of being in business.  They all started quite simply, then added some things through they years and are back to being very simple.  3M also added the red color.

This is even true for their series of medical and car care products. The 3M logo is located in the upper left corner.  The logo is usually for the most part always red, however, for some of these products the logo is colored black.

According to their national website, the design and graphics teams are working to create more uniform design requirements for all of their publications.

The interesting thing about some of 3M’s brands products is that they have “Top of the mind awareness.”  An example of this is that consumers say they need a “Command Hook.”  A Command Hook is both the name of the brand of the product and not just the brand and company.  This also applies for 3M’s products of their Scotch tape brand, when consumers say they need Scotch tape instead of just tape.

The 3M logo stands for the Minnesota Manufacturing and Mining Company.  I think it is interesting that they have kept the name to what it still is today because they do not do anything with mining, and never really did.  I’m not sure if there is necessarily a reason of why it would be needed to be changed though.

I think 3M tries to portray images of consumers living in a happy home or working in a successful and positive business with a cheerful environment. This makes sense because they produce products that are designed to make life better for both at home and at work.

Their logo is also used on their Twitter, which is their mainly used social media.

3M presents a majority of their products with sans-serif font with a plain white background.  They choose to have a minimalist design factor for presenting their products.  I think it is effective.  This design attempt seems to say that their products just simply work and do not need a bunch of added extras.  They are what they are and that’s enough.

Source:

http://www.designboom.com/design/logo-life-life-histories-of-100-famous-logos/

 

3M Brand Pollution? Not Really.

3M has not had very much controversy, which I found to be a little surprising.  I know they try had to maintain the image that their brand is concerned about the environment and takes steps to keep it safe.  I think this is a good idea, since they are a big manufacturing business and plastics are made from oil.  There was one instance though where 3M faced some controversy revolving around pollution violations.

 

A Minnesota 3M wanted to start a pollution incinerator that would help to burn the waste created from other companies and factories.  Although the incinerator for 3M had been in use for almost 40 years, since it started in 1971, controversy started when the company announced they wanted to burn waste from other companies besides their own.  3M said it would save natural gas and save the company money, about 2 million dollars per year, to burn other companies around the globe.

 

Naturally, the town where this was going to happen was not very excited about having their town turned into a worldwide dump and protested it.  After a lot of testing and public meetings, it was decided that it was in fact all right for 3M to be an incinerator for other companies.  3M does have a permit that prohibits the amount of pollution created by their incinerator.

 

There were some other smaller cases of public controversy, mostly centered around having too much pollution.  They were fined 95,000 dollars in 1988 then 1.5 million dollars a year later for exceeding pollution levels with their factories.

 

I think it is important for a company to be open and transparent, and not try to cover anything up because it will make whatever the situation is a bigger deal that what it would have been in the first place.

 

I believe that companies cannot keep secrets as well with Internet now.  Many scandals get ousted in this way.  Some examples include Nike, where it was revealed that their shoes were made in sweatshops in extremely poor conditions in foreign countries.

 

The aspect about these kinds of controversies that I find interesting is that while of course it is bad for the company and their brand image, a lot of their consumers still keep buying their products for the most part.  Is this because the product is more important than what the company does?

 

A book we are reading in Integrated Marketing and Communications says that consumers and businesses are in the relationship era.  This means that it is more about the relationship with the company than what the product is.  I think this is true relating to how an organization does their marketing and branding, and explains the impact of scandals on businesses.

 

 

Sources:

Bensen, L. (2007, April 25) Citizens’ board gives 3M a victory in chemical controversy. MPR News. Retrieved from http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2007/04/24/pcacitboard

 

Shaw, B. (2012, May 5). Controversy flares over 3M incinerator

Twin Cities.com Pioneer Press.  Retrieved from

http://www.twincities.com/ci_20604689/cottage-grove-controversy-flares-over-3m-incinerator

3M Cha-Cha-Changes

3M started up its business in 1902 in a small town in Minnesota.  That was back in the older times when things were simple, back when the name of the business didn’t leave non-employees guessing what those 3Ms stood for.  It was simply the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company.  They started out in hopes of becoming a mining business, but changed with some innovating products that includes masking tape.

That way of innovating thinking has caused this mega-brand to stay afloat for more than 100 years.  3M has businesses like Google and Hewlitt Packard participating in some of the same business practices today that 3M came up with and put into practice over 50 years ago.

Today, 3M is one of the top ten companies in the world.  They make 50,000 products and their annual sales are at $20 billion.  One of 3M’s technical directors, Kurt Beinlich, credits that success to the company’s ability to be innovative.

A big change happened in the way the business operates in 1948, a business operation change that helped to create the most creative and successful line of products for the company.  That business operation is called the 15 percent program.  It started at the time in America when defining job roles and home expectations after World War II were at an all-time high.

The 15 percent program means 3M employees get to spend 15 percent of their time at work creating and working on individual projects of their choice.  These can be worker’s own ideas, or projects that they donot have enough time for otherwise.

The idea is structured to make sure the time is productive.  Representatives from the different departments, about 200 people total, gather once a year to show off what they have all done with their 15 percent time.  3M says some of their most innovative products have come from this time, and some employees are at the most creative at that time.  A product that has been developed from this 15 percent time is Scotch blue painter’s tape that allows painters to paint in places more neatly.

ScotchBlue-Ribbons-Painters-Tape

 

http://hunt4freebies.com/sweepstakes/free-scotchblue-ribbons-painters-tape-sample-giveaway/

I think this is a really interesting idea.  Personally, I think it would be a great way to learn about oneself and their strengths and weaknesses.  This time is different than simply taking time off or relaxing, it is getting time to create and do something.  I think this idea of also caring for their employees also sends a great message.  I think enabling employees to take ownership and initiative about their own projects.  I think these values would also translate over into their other work too.  The site says that the 15 percent program is also used as a recruiting technique.

Sources

Goetz, K. (2001, Feb 1). Co Design Retrieved from http://www.fastcodesign.com/1663137/how-3m-gave-everyone-days-off-and-created-an-innovation-dynamo on Oct 4, 2013.

Retrieved from http://solutions.3m.com/wps/portal/3M/en_US/3M-Company/Information/Resources/History/ on Oct 4, 2013.