Branding is a force for good.
Let us ask you a few uncomfortable questions (because we love inquiry): Is it important to you how you show up in the world? Would you like the way you appear in the common communication we use today to reflect who you truly are? Are you resisting the idea you have to diminish how you show up in order to be “successful”?
If so, do you think (suspend your humility if you have to) that a genuine expression of your truth could have a positive impact on another person? On a group of people? On an organization? On an entire society?
By “how you show up in the world,” we mean your brand — your brand as a leader, a team, an organization.
Your brand can be a force for good. When you use your brand to spread light, it heals, inspires and attracts, which is why we believe all great brands are spiritual experiences. And that’s why we founded Root + River in 2016. The spirit, the energy, the you-ness, the facts of who you are as a person are your brand. Your brand is how other people experience what you believe.
There is growing evidence that our revolutionary premise is correct. Look how brands have led social change. Note how brands are using the power of attention not to just sell products but to start or support missions, solve problems, raise consciousness and defend democracy.
This is why we remain passionate, committed and indebted to this founding idea of brands being spiritual experiences. In the time it has taken us to build our brand into the flourishing garden it is today, we have also become passionate about other aspects of our work.
We thrill at working with defiers, the women and men who lead brands with devotion and conviction and humility, but who also feel profoundly pulled to change their industry, their market or the world. We love the way these individuals are reshaping capitalism. We vibe with the way they are re-imaging the industries in which they work: capital management, accounting, non-profit, logistics, medical services, professional services, training, coaching, therapeutics and more. They inspire us. And they are inspiring change.
These defiers share a common thread — a belief in themselves and a belief in the positive power of humanity.
That’s why taking the approach of intrinsic branding works for them, because it honors the spirit of the people they are and it affirms the way they want to behave.
They are not after quick-fixes. Like us, they recoil at unethical, bombastic or manipulative marketing.
But that does not mean they do not want to tell their story, or share their work in a powerful, consistent and evocative way.
We have also grown increasingly interested in taking what we have learned from our practice of intrinsic branding and applying it to what every organization of character must do in these times: Make. It. Real. Do the work of marketing to show you are an intrinsic brand.
If nothing else, Root + River is a tribute to the idea that you can market ethically.
Our community, Being Markers, nicknamed BeMa, is the place for people who want to revolutionize branding and marketing by being human. Here, our members find connection and guidance, and build skills and strategies to help them get there.
Being leaders, entrepreneurs, creators and soul-stirrers is not for the faint of heart. We have bloody elbows and bruised egos and scraped-up souls that tell the story of our lessons, our shortcomings and our inconsistencies.
They also tell another story. One of a team of underdogs with an idea that made others uncomfortable. One that has caused people to ridicule us, to diminish what we do, both publicly and privately. We’ve stared down and sat with the idea that intrinsic branding and ethical humanistic marketing might be quaint, unachievable ideas. We’ve been challenged and challenged ourselves.
And here’s the root of the root: we are going to persist with this battered idea until we can no longer.
Because it is significant and it could change the world.