When you think of Girl Guides, you might think of badges, camping, and selling cookies. While the first two are certainly a part of the Girl Guides experience, the latter has become an iconic aspect of the organization. Girl Guides cookies have been sold in Canada since 1927 and have become a beloved tradition for many Canadians. But beyond satisfying our sweet tooth, Girl Guides cookies offer lessons about social entrepreneurship that can be applied in any field.
Lesson #1: The power of a strong brand.
First and foremost, Girl Guides cookies demonstrate the power of a strong brand. When you see a box of Girl Guides cookies, you know exactly what you’re getting. The logo, the colours, the packaging – all of it is instantly recognizable. This is no accident. Girl Guides of Canada has spent years building and maintaining a strong brand identity that is associated with quality, reliability, and community.
Your brand is your identity and it’s crucial to invest time and resources into building and maintaining it. This means:
- developing a clear and consistent message
- creating visually appealing and memorable designs
- engaging with your audience in a way that reflects your values and mission.
This lesson is critical for any entrepreneur, social or otherwise.
Lesson #2: The importance of community support.
Girl Guides of Canada is a non-profit organization, and the money raised from cookie sales goes towards funding programs and initiatives that benefit girls and young women across the country. But they couldn’t do it alone. Girl Guides relies on the support of volunteers and community members to help sell cookies, spread the word, and promote their message.
Social entrepreneurs should take note of this. Building a strong network of supporters and partners is essential for success. Whether it’s through volunteer work, partnerships with other organizations, or simply engaging with your local community, creating a sense of connection and belonging is key to building a sustainable and impactful social enterprise.
Lesson #3: The importance of adapting to changing circumstances.
In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the traditional way that Girl Guides sell their cookies. Instead of going door-to-door or setting up tables in public places, they had to pivot to online sales and contactless delivery. This was a significant change, but Girl Guides adapted quickly and were able to sell over 5 million boxes of cookies, exceeding their sales target.
This is a reminder that social entrepreneurs must be nimble and adaptable. In a rapidly changing world, the ability to pivot and adjust to new circumstances is critical.
Whether it’s responding to a crisis like COVID-19, adapting to changes in the market, or simply trying out new strategies and approaches, the most successful social entrepreneurs are those who are willing to take risks and embrace change.
Lesson #4: The power of storytelling.
When you buy a box of cookies from a Girl Guide, you’re not just buying a tasty treat – you’re supporting a community of girls and young women who are learning important life skills, building friendships, and developing their leadership potential.
Girl Guides of Canada has done an excellent job of telling this story through its marketing and communication efforts. They’ve created videos, social media campaigns, and other content that showcases the impact that Girl Guides has on the lives of girls and young women across Canada.
Social entrepreneurs should take note of this. Storytelling is a powerful tool for building connections, engaging with your audience, and inspiring action.
By sharing stories of impact in social entrepreneurship and showcasing the real-world difference that your organization is making, you can inspire others to get involved and support your mission.
Final thoughts on Social Entrepreneurship
Girl Guides cookies offer valuable lessons about social entrepreneurship. From the importance of building a strong brand to the power of community support to the need for adaptability and storytelling, there are many insights that can be gleaned from this iconic Canadian tradition.