The Concept of Good
Card from Frances May, photo by Girvin

What about goodness? Brand, story, soul, humanity, beauty.

Why then, can one desire too much of a good thing. [“As You Like It”]

I was speaking with a client about the nature of goodness, in the truth of the brand — “what brand might be good, in the nature of its holism?” That begs the question — if there’s an enterprise, what is the character of it reaches to goodness?

I’m thinking back, about the nature of brands — and the humans that drive them — to the characters of goodness. What I’ve found, of course, is that brands — being driven by humans — are usually good if their core is good, as well.

Good leadership, good foundations, good brands.

What that means is that the premise of the leadership is focused on doing good, contributing, then likely the brand will follow. Unfortunately, one of the challenges of building a brand comes to the notion of making money — but not necessarily creating compensation, but building profit. There is a fear about there not being enough, down the line, or growth, or expanding enterprises and having money to spare beyond the meeting of measure becomes the path of sustainability. Being someone that has worked as a solo / team-based entrepreneur for more than three decades, working with hundreds of business people and their international brands, the issue of making money becomes the key driver, top down. There’s one thing to sustainable enterprise, there’s another to the notion the focus on the big move to big winnings, over and over. Is that good?

That idea of winning big, that’s a human and desirable expectation — “we got more!” But even giving the balancing act of winning, balancing and losing, there is postulate about the nature of doing good. In the soul of the brand, the enterprise, the nature of brands that have leadership that is focused — perhaps in an indices of perspective — on the good of the brand and its offerings.

What is good?

Good, perhaps 5,000 years back, comes from an ancient word — the confluence of the Proto Indo European mixture of seed languages — this sound: *ghedh– “to unite, be associated, suitable.” There are evolutions — the Old Church Slavonic godu “pleasing time,” and the Russian godnyi “fit, suitable,” the Old English gædrian “to gather, to take up together.” From that time, as well — spreading the good word — Proto Germanic *gothaz (and compare — the Old Norse goðr, the Dutch goed, Old High German guot, the German gut, the Gothic goþs), originally “fit, adequate, belonging together,”and finally, closer to our time and interpretation — the Old English god (with a long “o”) “virtuous; desirable; valid; considerable,” probably originally “having the right or desirable quality,” all of which reference the goodness of the state of being. Being good.

Goodness — to unite, to gather together, to fit — belonging together.

In the dream of humanity, moving past the tenets of survival, the idea of doing good is an interesting principle — pushing beyond, the drive. One might consider the metaphor of the compass, in the work of business, brand, creativity and living — what is the true north of goodness – the compass of soulful direction

True north, the human, the brand, the soul of passionate goodness.

What about you — the passion of finding the right thing, the right dream — the goodness of the commitment, of the work?

In speaking with Sir Kenneth Robinson about the concept of the personal path, it is that idea of the approach of passion (and learning personal unfoldment) — that insistent theming that relates to the nature of instinct and impression in noting the thread of the visioning of the person. And that visioning might be at the heart of goodness — care for the state of the person, of other people, of the brand’s commitment. That, implicitly, is the fascination of the human brand — the potential for goodness, contribution, creative advancement — for me; that the concept of creating brands, notions of commerce and enterprise are incipiently linked to the spirit of the person — their visioning — and how that beauty (hopefully) will always be there, evolving, growing, tending to the shifting. Sir Robinson, whom I met as a co-speaker at a design event in Sarasota, Florida — spoke of the “web of possibility and imagination.” To his sense of stepping forward, the concepts of creativity are at the heart of the celebration of human imagination and how we might put this to work — and finding personal goodness. “Following our own true north, in advancing human kind.” He references, as well – the idea that people will likely be motivated more to the idea of building commitment, contributions, than simply getting a paycheck. That there is potential for good starting at the one — the centerpoint of the brand is always human.

I’m looking for good brands. Brands that have goodness. I’ve written about some, notations here:

Tata spirituality?
Starbucks community?
Brunello Cuccinelli — giving back?
Louis Vuitton, rebooting?
Apple advancing the story of creative goodness?

Walking around the edge of the notion of good brands, there are others exploring that proposition. One gathering, to examine, is this positioning — similar to my overview (but less to the leadership and more to the holistic outcome). The trend group, PSFK defines that proposition as “a genuinely good brand in 2010 takes more than a widely used product and an ubiquitous global presence. Though there is no precise formula, what the ten good brands on our list have in common is a penchant for imagination, innovation, environmental responsibility and social consciousness.

Their products and services don’t just serve a basic need, but instead help as a tool to improve people’s lives. Several companies have stayed strong, maintaining their positions from last year with continued innovation, while others on the list have jumped into prominence through offering creative solutions and ground breaking new business models.”

Their standard crosses the boundaries of goodness, with innovation, knowledge sharing, mentality purchase, etc. The listing to their standard, would be:

10 Key Learnings

1. Constant innovation and experimentation

2. Re-imagine the world

3. Create the game you want to play

4. Live your brand & teach others about it

5. Build value by sharing Knowledge

6. Align around good

7. React daily

8. Rather than a product to purchase, provide a mentality to buy

9. Present products as stories

10. Partner with likeminded brands to create improved products & services

To their analysis — the good brands of 2010 are: Google, Apple, Jamie Oliver, MIT, The Ace Hotel, Ikea, Nike, Twitter, Foursquare, Nintendo.

More to be gathered on their summary here.

I think that it might come down to the soulful enterprise, brands that have soul, that are seeing a higher calling than merely the turn to profit. There is sustainable, and there is the higher siren call of boosted cash — the difference might be in the glue of goodness.

I’d ask, when you think of brands that are good — do you think of the people that run them, or merely the brand itself?

I look to the people — who’s there, and what do they care about; what’s their story, and what are they telling us all?

Crowdsourcing cool ideas for enterprise:
Girvin BrandQuest® | www.girvin.com/blog/brandquest-innovations-and-new-brand-development

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