Brand strategy in cause related marketing
Every brand begins with a human, and that sense of the “human-ness” is aligned with intentionality. Humanitarian brands — those which espouse the notion of aid for other human beings — are intentionally focused on actions that contribute to creating solutions for supporting those in varying states of needfulness. The consideration of need relates to the very basis of the human condition — survival, on any number of levels, wherefrom disease, starvation, thirst, abuse, literacy and shelter are at the very center of the branding challenge of finding and creating love; it’s love of the enterprise, the cause, that builds emotional and finanical alignment and support.
If your brand is unloved, then you’re nowhere.
Love comes in a variety of forms. It might be evangelistic embrace, with your own group of brand advocates that spread the word; it might be in a simple capture of the emotional condition of your cause — and the people that are affected, and how this might be newly swayed as perhaps a more remote connection; or it might be in the celebrated cause of the moment, a discontinuous instant of empathic reaction. All of these elements are viable and profound — each, a step in community. But the challenge is how to align the humanitarian branding enterprise with expressions that are meaningful in building community for the longer term. The point is that the messaging must be continuously and ever actively showing results and expression of commitment — to each community: the community that is being served, and the community that serves — in financial support, as well as the internal organization and the commune that is represented by brand leadership and talent in support of humanitarian enterprise. All of these are inherently interchangeable — they are networked, and structured for the most potent continuing alignment — if not, the brand is not, and won’t be, sustainable. This is fundamental to all brand conditions. The conceptions of giving are at the heart of the planning, that is — how to create, build and promulgate the propositions of reflective thinking in gift giving — giving something to another represents the heart full condition of giving back; it goes two ways: “I give, and I am given back something.” What is that, in the self centered character of that observation? It’s love, actually. First, it’s exchange in sharing — either this is built into the childhood genetics of learned sharing, or it’s not comprehended. It’s part of the human spiritual condition to share — survival lies there. Secondly, it is about exchange — that is, there is something in the human construct that relates to the idea of passing something that is represented in a kind of commerce — “trade”. The trade in humanitarian giving is about the spirit of an emotional trade: “in this exchange, I give this offering, for that, I derive a better sense of well being”, whether that might be real, or an enlarged presence in self worthiness in being, for example, being recognized.
The modeling in the message
The real queue to comprehension relates to the speed of the messaging in the holistic packet of identity, the truth of the presence of the brand “story”.
As we’ve pointed out, people relate to each other in the spirit of the story; this might seem zealously repetitive, it’s a theoretical positioning that’s fundamentally founded. People think in stories, so the idea of a story being a layer of how brand messaging works is simply natural, being based on the structuring of human psychology. The nature of the story in humanitarian branding is profound, since the very link between people — the emotional bonding, the love — to cause is inherently founded on these premises. “What’s the story and how, really, does that relate to me?” If the story is emotionally embraced, then people hold fast to the concept of the brand, in its telling, and how that relates to their sense of presence and world view — and their place in it.
Humanitarian brand advocacy
To the concept of the so-called brand posse, the group of evangelists that take up the cause as their own, it’s a profound component of community. Any social media works on that front, to state the obvious.
“Become a fan” is part of that easy gesture of connection in support. Community makes, or breaks, a brand — they are compelled by the power of it, are willing to work hard to tell their stories about their connection, and eager to bring others to the fold. However, the real issue is reflectivity. That is, the idea that one story told becomes another person’s telling. Many of us, in listening to compelling stories, retell them as our / their own. Any story can become your story.
Reaching to the unconscious
As Carl Gustav Jung intoned there is a primordial imagery that symbolically is reflected in the dreams — collectively, unconsciously, in all. The patterning of these ancient, human psychic experiences might be gathered, in analytical psychology, as archetypes. As a brand, story and humanitarian expression, it’s crucial to at least consider the idea that there is a deeper story, it’s not merely about what’s shown superficially, but what is the driving premise beneath. Jung’s lengthy exposition of the archetypal, even forming foundation in his childhood dreams, suggests that the archetypes form a dynamic substratum common to all humanity, upon the foundation of which each individual builds his own experience of life, evincing a unique array of psychological characteristics. While archetypes themselves may be conceived as a relative few innate nebulous and organically evolutionary forms, from these may arise innumerable images, symbols and patterns of behavior. While the emerging images and forms are apprehended consciously, the archetypes which inform them are elementary structures which are unconscious and impossible to apprehend — but still, can be explored and gathered in relevant context to brand. Being unconscious, the existence of archetypes can only be deduced indirectly by examining behavior, images, art, myths, etc. They are inherited potentials which are actualized when they enter consciousness as images or manifest in behavior on interaction with the outside world. Speaking to your constituency, it might be suggested in the following types of outcomes — “I like this image because it reminds me of my home; that picture makes me sad, it’s like my youngest brother; I like this color because of a time I had in the mountains; reading this, it reminds me of my deeper interest in being a caregiver for my family”. It is here, that the story unfolds, the brand is literally “explicated” — panel on panel of experience are revealed, and more is founded in the misted interior than one might believe at first. What then, is the archetype of your cause? Fear? Love? Hope? These might be considered emotional responses to deeper patterning, the archetype of the hero, the caregiver, the goddess, the mother, the magician. Where are you?
Surveilling your brand
In examining the potential of your deeper meaning, and what that might represent for your internal teams and the messaging that is an excipient intonation, it’s worth considering the speed of your conception. Many websites, the predominant character of brand expression, go far over the top of clamor; they forget the heat, and the heart, of the transaction. Stay close and study – what are you saying? Holistically, simply — what is the read? “Warmly clear — the intentions are obvious; painfully empathic — the messaging is alarming; fuzzy friendly — it’s nice what you’re doing but who cares?”
The notion of speed in brand messaging
People simply don’t have the time to read more complexly layered content — unless, of course, it really relates to the urgency of survival (a job, for example). We believe in tiering — think of story, message as having a kind of arcing geometry, the spinning revelation of light, from perigee to apogee, along with all the transient levels of messaging strung in the arc of orbit. Exploring that layering — with the closely founded signature / descriptor / paragraphical messaging and deeply texted content buried further down the linear progression of access — is a utile exercise in brand message studies. And reaching into the heart of your relationships, building community, in the metaphor of “love”.