BabyCenter: Creating a Social Brand (2012) Stanford Graduate School of Business Case (Aaker and Schifrin)
In 2012 BabyCenter was the largest parenting platform and parenting media company in the world. It provided expert advice to pregnant women and new mothers while connecting these women to each other online and in person. The company had 110 employees, with operations in 23 regions around the world in 14 languages. The case provides students with a practical, real world example of how to create and grow a social brand. It details how BabyCenter evolved as a social brand through implementing several mechanisms: cultivating employee innovation, creating customer communities, empowering influencers, and enabling great storytelling. BabyCenter cultivated employee innovation through its three-day “BabyCenter Innovation Days,” held every six weeks. These days involved brainstorming sessions, breaking into cross-departmental and intra-departmental teams, and presenting innovative business ideas to the rest of the company. These ideas directly benefited the company, as 60 to 70 percent of them went to market. BabyCenter created customer community online through an interactive website, and in the real world through “BabyCenter Birth Clubs.” Using the customer data it collected, the company connected women in the same stage of pregnancy to each other to form the clubs, which served as social organizations and support networks. Through its robust web analytics and surveys, BabyCenter identified its most active and trusted online users, the “influencers,’’ and worked deliberately to cultivate its relationships with them. One way the company did this was through launching a social campaign highlighting several influencer moms who worked with charitable organizations. BabyCenter also understood and embraced the power of stories to create brand value, and it gave customers the opportunity to tell their own stories through the website and beyond.