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Newsletter #1032: The “Lessons from Tattoos” Issue

[Welcome back to the Damn, I Wish I’d Thought of That! newsletter. This is text of the great issue all of our email subscribers just received. Sign yourself up using the handy form on the right.]

No, we’re not going to talk about those companies who give away free tattoos of their logo or the ones who pay people to get one. This is about businesses who have found unexpected ways tattoos can reach people — to help them recover, to detect cancer, and to inspire creativity.

Here are three companies doing remarkable things with tattoos:

1. For rehabilitation
2. For cancer awareness
3. For work benefits
4. Check it out: Vintage Tattoos

1. For rehabilitation

Ugly prison tattoos are a lingering reminder of bad decisions and guilt for some ex-convicts. Even worse, because of the way most of these DIY tattoos were inked, they’re almost impossible to remove with traditional methods. To help people transform these tattoos into something beautiful, Poland’s Pedagogium The College of Social Sciences teamed up with an ad agency, Isobar Poland, and tattoo artists to create Freedom Tattoos. They explain that by transforming the prison tattoos (not just hiding them), ex-convicts feel a sense of personal growth and feel more confident in their rehabilitation.

The lesson: It’s not easy to talk about the nuances of ex-prisoner rehabilitation. It’s much easier to talk about Freedom Tattoo’s mission to turn ugly prison ink into beautiful tattoos and start conversations about the bigger issue.

Learn more: Adweek

2. For cancer awareness/h3>
Tattoo artists are up close and personal with people’s skin all day. So when they see something that looks like it might be skin cancer, Sol de Janeiro, a sunscreen brand in Brazil, wanted to help them out. The company had dermatologists train 450 tattoo artists on how to spot the signs of skin cancer so they can boost awareness while giving their customers some ink. It gave tattoo artists a new way to show love to their clients, and it gave Sol de Janeiro a network of existing talkers to spread word of mouth.

The lesson: Find a group that serves your customers and think of practical ways you can help that group. What can you teach them to make them better at their jobs? What can you share with them to help them show love to your mutual customers?

Learn more: Jellyvision

3. For work benefits

Employees at Imagine, a design firm in Virginia, get an annual reimbursement of $150 from the company to go towards the cost of getting a tattoo. They do it to encourage their employees to be creative both at work and in their personal lives. But the tattoo reimbursement is just a small benefit that helps tell the story of their unique company culture. They also encourage employees to decorate their spaces with their own art and hold a golf tournament inside the office each year.

The lesson: Recruiting new employees, like recruiting customers, takes thinking beyond the usual benefits most companies offer. What unique things could you offer to help you stand out to people looking for a job?

Learn more: GasPedal’s Blog

4. Check it out: Vintage Tattoos

These antique photos of people with tattoos range from the glory days of Sailor-Jerry-style Americana to the days when getting ink made you a side-show attraction.

Check it out: Vintage Tattoos

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  1. James Young April 9, 2015 at 10:17 am #

    The Army had a bout with tattoos, they banned all visible tattoos. Most Soldiers got them to remember fallen comrades, and honor their service. Or they got them because they look cool. New leadership lifted the ban. I think the funniest tattoo I observed was a guy who intended to get “Bred to kill.” He was very upset when I pointed out the grammatical error, as he actually had “Bread to Kill…” goes a long way.

  2. Jordan April 10, 2015 at 8:47 am #

    This is an awesome way to see how different companies can take a pretty basic part of life – people getting tattoos – and brought brand awareness to it. I also think it’s pretty awesome that we’re coming to be way more accepting of visible tattoos as we were just even 5 years ago. People aren’t seen as less professional if they have a tattoo, and I think campaigns like these really help with the new image.

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