My Girls, My Tears, & Our Brand Stances

 In Branding, Business Artistry

jeffrey-daughter

I cry more often than you might think. It usually comes from feeling someone in pain more than admitting my own. Conversations and relationships plus music, art, film, books, and, yes, commercial videos turn on the tears for me.

My crying reflects back to me what I care about, what I stand for, what drives me.

My 7-year-old girl cries often, too. One January night last year, I gave her a brief overview of Martin (Michael) Luther King, Jr.’s life. As is par for her, the death fixated her curiosity. “Now why did he die? How did he die? Why did the man shoot him? That’s ridiculous. That’s just ridiculous to hate someone because of how they look.”

And then before bed she cried because of how MLK had died.

When I’m really honest with myself these days it’s both the knowledge of suffering and the conviction for something better for our world and, frankly, for my two girls that drives me. I do want to add my small verse to a world where we grown-ups can wonder and remember what is true, real, and beautiful.

I suspect something similar privately and deeply drives you, too.

Because here’s the deal, as I see it:

One view of our world in 2017 is that we as a species are becoming more and more hostile and divided, driven to distraction and despair.

Another view is that many of us are creating change – in big and small, large and quiet ways – in how we relate to each other, driven by conviction and ideals.

We create things that create change to relate anew.

One view of big business brands is that they’re just cynical ploys to fill CEO pockets. Another view is that in fact what Tracking Wonder champions – business as unusual – is actually reflected in larger trends in business from the top-down and sideways.

I remain hopeful and gather lots of data to charge my sun rays while still keeping my eyes open at midnight.

One thing I feel we at TW have been a little ahead of us is this: That what creatives and personal brands have to offer is what big businesses want. Intimacy. Artful surprise and meaning. Personable relationships. Meaningful stories.

The best businesses – just like the best leaders and best creatives and best personal brands – in my view keep unfolding and uncovering what they are about in part by the creative act itself.

That is, I would contend that many of us – whether solo or part of large organizations – re-discover, remember, and unfold our ideals and principles through what we create, whether it is one person’s book or collage or a business’s new video campaign.

What is created is as much a mirror for the creator as it is for the audience. You feel it in your goosebumps and in your bones. “Oh, yeah! That’s what I’m about!”

So, in scanning my research, our work with clients, and a review of big ad campaigns over these past years, here are my top 4 predictions for branding this year:

4. Experience.

An experience architect is someone or a brand who can shape artful, meaningful experiences for your communities and customer-heroes.

Customer experience (not customer service) is shifting industries from health care & hospitals to website host providers to small businesses and personal brands and creatives’ platforms. #DesigntoDelight

3. Personable.

The word is “personable,” not vulnerable. It’s tricky for smaller businesses and professionals to strike the tone of “personable” without alienating their professional clientele. It’s also challenging for professionals to write in a personable voice without sounding disingenuous or TMI. But this is the year to risk being more personable.

Have real conversations. Care. Relate. Track every piece of communication so your signature voice touches it.

And treat branding as part of your personal expansion. The rest follows.

2. Co-Creating the Brand.

Big businesses and personal brands alike are finding ways to listen more and to create and pivot accordingly. The more you bring your customer-heroes into the creative and business quest with you, the more you might enjoy building your brand, business, and offers.

If you’re still shunning social media, you’re shunning attuning yourself to what your fellow human beings are aching from and aching for.

Chris Brandt of Taco Bell Corp. recently noted that branding more and more is a two-way conversation.

This is one reason I adopted the term “conversation leader” a few years ago for some clients: They raise the important questions with their communities. It’s from that space they create what’s wanted and deliver what’s needed.

1. Story & Stance = Leadership.

Call it bravery. But what I saw in video campaigns last year speaks to the power of Story for a brand of any size to take a stance that can move people to action, to changed views, or at least to tears.

I speak more about it tomorrow at the 4 Keys to Increase Your Brand Presence & Impact webinar.  

Again, Chris Brandt: Consumers…reward companies that have similar values and ask, “Is the brand good for me (the consumer) and good for we (society as a whole)?”

Disclaimer: I have not tracked Taco Bell this year the way I have tracked Chipotle’s ideals.

Here’s one example:

Always’s #LikeAGirl – Unstoppable. Yes, a brand that makes women’s menstrual products prompted my tears, which led me to reflect upon what led to this piece. #Unapologetic

“I can’t really rescue anybody.” That killed me. And it made me a fan.

Not only is this video beautifully executed. It makes sense that Always would champion this cause. Their products are not simply pads. They’re part of a woman’s significant life cycles latent with undue stigma and suffering. For the first time, this guy has a quasi-personal relationship with these products. (I know, I know, wait until I’m writing about the 13-year-old.)  

Oh, yeah. That’s what I’m about. #Unapologetic

I’m not challenging your brand or business to create a campaign that moves me to tears this year, but this year why not – in your own small or big, quiet or vocal way – stand for and stand up for what you care about? And why not let what you create reflect your ideals and then move people you care about to feel something real?

 

Thanks for running with me,

Jeffrey

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