Read Time: Approximately 11 minutes
First, let me explain what I mean by a brand with heart.
A brand with a heart comes to life because it expresses the beating hearts of your business. Your unique vision, core values, and passion for changing your industry - or even the world - all breathe life into your brand.
Brands with heart exist to improve the way things are currently done and are often focused on improving lives, communities, and our world.
By nature, they are bandwagons that people love to jump on because their visions are clear and inspiring. They keep people engaged because they are working for something that matters! They become the story your raving fans begin telling themselves about your products or services and the source of endless referrals.
The crazy thing is that many people with huge hearts create brands without hearts.
A brand without heart constantly struggles with competition, downward pressure on margins, and retaining great customers and employees.
Is your brand holding you back from making the difference you could and winning the projects you should be winning?
1- Your message is getting lost in the sea of mediocrity
You and your people are amazing at what you do, but there are so many other messages, emails, and distractions... vying for the attention of the individuals you need to reach.
You know you can help them better than anyone, but you need to be able to part the sea of endless mediocrity to get through.
If only you could reach through their computer screens, gently grab their chins and say, "listen, please, I am saying this for your own good."
Well, you kind of can.
Creating a brand with heart ... will attract them to you. It will compel others to share because YOUR beating heart is connecting with THEIR beating hearts. This is not flaky hippy stuff; this is simply marketing to humans.
You will be saying something human in a brandscape of talking machines, robotic emails, and one-sided conversations, trying to use their confusion to sell them something.
You will stand out from the herd of lifeless zombies, and your staff will spend less time and your budget chasing shiny things. Instead, they will focus on people who have already put their hands up and screamed, "Tell me more."
Brands with hearts stand out in a sea of lifeless zombies.
You've invested in all the right "shiny things." You bought 500 promotional products to attract people to your booth. You invested in pay-per-click advertising and Facebook ads to draw traffic to your site. You wrote a few posts for LinkedIn and spent a bit more on traditional media. Now you're getting traffic. People are drawn to your trade show booth, website, and landing pages... but then they bounce and often never look back.
It's like that conversation people flee from because it's either too one-sided or there's no connection, and they get bored.
How many times have you signed up for an offer, and then the next 9 out of 10 emails offer no real value to you? You archive the email and go on with your day. After a couple of weeks of this, their emails become invisible. You delete them without opening them and eventually unsubscribe.
If you can't keep people engaged, they will leave. If it's a high-value customer, they will often cross you off the list and leave for good. You will become as invisible to them as those words hanging over your reception desk that read, "Our mission is to..."
Creating a brand with heart engages people, with purpose, from the beginning. They will ask more questions, start picturing the possibilities of working with you and become invested in your vision. They will want to keep in contact to see how your living brand grows, learns, and stumbles. Many will help you rear your new life. Some will even squeeze its cheeks... Yuk!!!
The time it takes for someone to say yes will get shorter, you'll waste less money on tactics that go nowhere, and your limited marketing budget will become ultra-focused on those who are engaged in your vision.
Brands with a heart always engage the "Tell me more" at networking events.
Your marketing efforts attract plenty of people, but they don't seem to be the right kind. There are so many people that want to pick your brain until your grey matter starts unraveling like a poorly knitted sweater... and of course, for free.
Or you seem to attract the types that want to talk about anything... mostly themselves and their problems. Time vampires will suck you dry if you give them a chance. Then there are the freebie seekers. These people have no interest or need in what you offer; they want something more for free. By enabling them, you are enabling their problem. Stop!
There is a place for charity, and it should be a considerable part of your brand, but charity is not enabling hoarding behavior at the expense of your budget or brand.
Save time, money, and hair!
Brands with hearts keep people on topic. They attract the people who see and believe in your vision to the point that they will identify and pre-qualify themselves before making contact.
You will waste less time and money hoarding garlic to repel the time vampires and more time in conversations that help both you and the people you serve.
Brands with hearts attract constructive energy.
There doesn't seem to be a day when you don't see something new in your inbox, say to yourself, "that seems like a good idea," and go spiraling down another rabbit hole for hours. This often happens because there are too many paths to follow, too many experts telling you which is the best path, and too much content that is just useful enough to keep distracting you. And it will keep on happening until you create your brand's beating heart.
When you purposefully identify the beating heart in your business or program, your brand's foundation will begin revealing itself. It will start determining what is essential and what is just another squirrel sent by the "gods of competition" to derail your focus.
Your instincts will kick in because your brand will no longer be separate from you, and your instincts will let you know what to focus on and what to delete immediately. Content will come so much easier. You'll gain focus and reduce overwhelm. And you'll stop driving the people who were meant to work with you to your competition because they never knew how awesome you are.
You'll waste less time chasing gurus and more time purposefully following your path... to realizing that you have been the guru all along.
Brands with hearts have focus and direction.
People like and comment on your blog, and your social media posts are buzzing, but likes don't pay the bills. They are drawn to your trade show booth, and you're having great conversations, but you never hear from them again. Your videos are being watched and shared like crazy, but no one is visiting your site, picking up the phone, or scheduling a meeting.
They will do nothing if people don't know what you want them to do.
Focusing on ego-metics like impressions, views, and likes is great... if you have a virtually bottomless bank account... but for us mere mortals, we need to focus our limited budgets on something that makes a real difference as soon as possible. Like qualified leads, sales, donations, recruitment, accident reduction, and tangible actions toward social change.
Creating a brand with a heart gives people a reason to take action that counts. And their inner voice tells them to follow through because it's good for them and the right thing to do.
You'll ask for action, see action and measure progress toward your vision. That's what we like!
Brands with hearts inspire more people to follow through.
You're getting all sorts of referrals- but they are not for what you do best. You created impressive results for that last client, but when it comes to referrals, her assistant often answers the phone and sends referrals your way.
If she doesn't know the scale of what you provide, she will always refer you for what she knows - or understands of your services - and this is often the lowest common denominator.
I'll share an example that happened to me:
A leader contacted me to help his business stand apart overseas at a high-stakes recruitment event. I created a unique dimensional advertising piece that engaged individuals and gave them the tools they needed to decide. The package included a customized promotional product, copywriting, a web key, and enablement resources. The leader wanted two engineers. We targeted 12, and he ended up hiring three. He was over the moon. It also won two national awards for recruitment marketing and garnered him national press.
Meanwhile, one of his assistants was responsible for taking delivery of the packages and ensuring they made it safely overseas. She never saw the research, strategy, and copywriting components. She was only privy to the finished product.
A few weeks after the big victory, I got a phone call from a referral. The lady said, "So and so (the assistant) said you could help us with our company swag.
I paused for a moment and made a decision. In retrospect, maybe not have been my greatest decision.
I took the business and learned a huge lesson. I was referred not for the transformation I created but for the end product—a thing, not a result.
I took the business and continued to take the business. I was controlling entire organizations' promotional products and apparel budgets. Then I woke up one day and realized that 80% of my clients were referrals, not for what I do best. I had effectively let referrals reposition my brand.
I was this guy everyone was hiring to reach high-value targets with amazing success rates compassionately, but now all of a sudden, I became the guy who supplies cool swag.
Things had to change. I had to reposition myself as the guy I was. The one they hire to compassionately reach high-value targets, to move communities to action, to deliver highly charged topics with sensitivity.
The only way to do this was to rebrand and rebrand with heart.
Brands with hearts take control of referrals and testimonials and inspire people to refer you for the amazing transformation you deliver, the problems you solve, and the incredible experience you offer.
Brands with hearts are allowed to evolve. They are allowed to break through stereotypes and create spaces of their own. Most importantly, the ability to say NO makes them even more valuable.
Brands with hearts attract referrals for what they are passionate about doing - Something I learned the hard way.
You're technically outstanding at what you do and deliver astounding results for your clients, but you know you could reach people on and at a higher level.
Your employees are productive but seem to be somewhat directionless. There is a fair amount of infighting, complaining, and questioning about why they are doing things this way and what they are trying to achieve. Small factions arise with rebel generals, and long-term allies act like battle-weary veterans. It all feels like a tightly wound coil about to SNAP!
Contractors follow their vision of how things should be done when their work is supposed to represent you. The lifeless mission and vision statements on your wall have become an invisible piece of abstract art that inspires no one except for the occasional sarcastic belly laugh.
Your website is a one-sided conversation bragging about how great you were, and it sounds more like the high school football star who now sells shoes.
Customers are referring you less, and what they do refer you for are the small jobs. Employees are acting listless, defeated, and bored, and all you can do is think of" your next escape from it all." Your exit strategy is looking positively anemic. Who wants to buy a business without a beating heart?
Brands with hearts inspire people. They empower partners who adopt your vision to keep moving forward. They enable people to express themselves and, more importantly, their true brilliance in pursuing a shared vision.
They inspire people to join you to change the world together, scream your name from the mountaintops, or throw kisses and cash your way.
They breathe life into all of your messages and create causes that take on lives of their own.
Brands with hearts catapult you out of bed every morning!
David Betke has dedicated his career to helping brands that give back make a bigger difference. His campaigns have helped save a 65 000-acre forest forever, reduced carbon emissions in a city measurably, and helped recruit three senior engineers during the height of a labor crisis. One even generated a 6000% return within six months and attracted many great customers for life. David has been recognized with seven national marketing awards.
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