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Brands as Meaning Makers

Brands as Meaning Makers

Tim Lebrecht is a noted brand and marketing thinker. He recently made a presentation at The Economist’s “The Big Rethink” Brand Power conference in London, at which he urged companies to see the role of a meaning maker for people important to the brand. Tim isn’t talking about a total rethink of the company’s mission or purpose, but rather as he says, “everyday small acts that make the lives of stakeholders a little bit more meaningful. I believe that maybe the sum of all these small parts is greater than the whole. So, what are the qualities of a brand that is a...
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Who Knew? No one.

Who Knew? No one.

As the media heated up before the Masters golf tournament, a Wall Street Journal piece noted that the PGA Tour is a non-profit organization “that turns over its excess cash to charity.” Last year, this amounted to $130 million, which is big money for any philanthropy. For comparison, total prize money for the 2013 PGA Tour season is $298 million. I re-read the “excess cash” sentence about four times. The sport of rich white men, awash in corporate sponsorships, is giving big chunks of the money to those less fortunate. Who knew? Not me, or any of my friends who are deep into golf. I bet a...
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Purpose and Profit

Purpose and Profit

Purpose and Profit If you want to run a successful business that leads with purpose, you had better be good at profit. You have to know your business well enough to shred carbon out of it and inject humanity into it without blowing up the bottom line. Your company also has to be a star in whatever supply chain it’s in, because if you don’t impress your closest peers, customers and suppliers, then your sustainability programs probably don’t amount to much. In short, if your company is succeeding with sustainability, it’s almost certainly well managed. This seems so obvious, I started to...
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Why Workplaces Aren’t Meaningful Now

Why Workplaces Aren’t Meaningful Now

Disillusioned by the age of conspicuous consumption, worried by the state of the planet and its people, rocked by war, corruption, and financial crises, and immersed in a swirl of information, news, opinion, and gossip, people are searching for meaning in their lives. Today they feel a need to align with people, ideas, and companies that make them feel they’re part of something bigger than themselves. People are seeking a sense of purpose, a reason for being, and the answer to the question, “Why is this good?” Today their idea of good is shaped by an increased awareness of their own needs,...
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Sustaina-Buzz: Transparency

Sustaina-Buzz: Transparency

Whenever corporations, NGOs, and academics mix in one milieu, buzzwords seem to multiply like mosquitoes after a spring rain. They can be just as irritating if you’re not prepared. So let’s slather on some Sustaina-Buzz and avoid the bites. Today’s buzzword: transparency. The metaphor is easy to understand: anything transparent allows you to see through it to what’s on the other side, or on the inside of something. Anything opaque keeps you from seeing. In the corporate world, “transparency” refers to what corporations tell us about themselves. If they are publicly traded, and therefore...
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Lego Brand Language

Lego Brand Language

If you grew up with Lego®, or you get down on the floor when the kids pull it out, you know this to be true: Lego appeals to kids of all ages. During a recent session, a five-year-old mentor of mine said something typically wise beyond his years, “Everyone says you can make anything with Lego, but it’s not true. You can’t make a dream.” Whoa. When the little genius went to bed, I began to think about things in life that we make with the Lego approach – snapping things together to approximate a shape we have in mind. Good cooks do it with ingredients to create flavors and textures they have...
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Brands That Matter Have Top-down Power, Bottom-up Support, and All-around Success

Brands That Matter Have Top-down Power, Bottom-up Support, and All-around Success

If you are faced with the task of defining, or redefining, a brand strategy, think about the person most influential to its success. Ask yourself: – Who has the greatest insight into where your business needs to go? – Who can make sure that the company’s brand strategy embodies, and brings to life, this vision? – Who sees how the people, processes and policies of the business need to evolve to address future issues and opportunities? – Who is the best person to lead the organization forward in a focused, unified and purposeful manner? The CEO. Yet, how many CEOs...
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Tell Me A Story

Tell Me A Story

Do you like movies? Do you read novels or short stories? Do you go to the theater? If any of these are true for you, you’re going to like emotive branding. There is a reason that human beings have developed so many art forms that tell stories. We even developed stories about art that doesn’t technically have a narrative, such as painting, sculpture, and modern dance. We do this because of that conscious mind sitting on top of our nervous system. It’s a connection maker, a synthesizer, a transformer of what we see into something we can understand. Above all, it wants resolution. It wants...
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Happy 4 Year Anniversary Emotive Brand

Happy 4 Year Anniversary Emotive Brand

Anniversaries are a great time for reflection. As Emotive Brand celebrates its fourth birthday today, I feel compelled to share some of the lessons learned and observations I’ve made a long the way. I hope it inspires. If you are going to start a business and have a partner, choose wisely. Ultimately, choose someone who really understands and shares your vision, has complimentary skills to what you can do well, and a person you can laugh with. It’s not easy starting a company, but you will make it easier by partnering with someone you deeply respect. Quickly articulate why your...
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Five Key Elements of a Good Sustainability Report

Five Key Elements of a Good Sustainability Report

Not all corporate sustainability reports (CSRs) are created equal. Some reports are glossy marketing brochures that lack substantive data. Others are so data focused that reading them requires a strong cup of coffee to resist boredom-induced sleep. The best reports provide a balance of accessible, engaging text and comprehensive, material data presented in a well-designed format. It is both art and science. But what are the elements that go into making a good report? Which reports should you look to for inspiration? A good place to start is the list of finalists for the Ceres-ACCA North...
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