Since I was a child I have tried to live my life beliefs and beauty first.
Here’s what I don’t mean by beliefs: condemning those different than you or imposing your values onto others in an I’m-right-you’re-wrong manner. Here’s what I don’t mean by beauty: all traditional definitions, particularly those of physical beauty.
Here’s what I do mean by beliefs: letting what you believe guide your choices, tapping into your inner voice of truth and allowing that to navigate life’s rocky moments. Here’s what I do mean by beauty: emotions, experiences and visuals that are frayed by reality, present jagged edges and therefore, in their gorgeous messiness, create a visceral response that belly rubs the soul.
As a precocious girl, I always imagined myself as a professional woman, but one who achieved on her own terms. I fancied myself an up-and-coming actress/singer/writer/fashion designer/Daisy Duke/mom/wife, but never quite had the clarity of vision to know I would work as a brand and communication strategist/exec.
And yet here I am, several years later, rocking that professional woman thing, albeit with daily humbling messes on my hands, followed by the occasional glimpse of Wonder Woman-ness.
Despite all surprises, failings and fierceness, I find my early philosophy continues to guide me in my branding work.
Brands need to live in the world as beliefs- and beauty-first entities.
Branding and marketing is not some done-up, pumped up, make-up masked, edited, corseted or carefully waxed man or woman striking an odd pose. Marketing and branding are now barefaced celebrities, snapping selfies, sans Photoshopping or foundation. They are amateur filmmakers voluntarily creating very funny Super Bowl commercials for a $1 million prize. They are campaigns like, “Love. It’s what makes a Subaru a Subaru” that are amplified by pages of owner stories about how driving a Subaru has impacted their life.
Branding is about what you believe – and how you share that with the world in an artful, beautiful and emotion-evoking way.
Two cases in point.
Number one: Clif Bar.
Clif Bar gets this. Here’s evidence. It’s a job posting, and also a piece of branding about why they do what they do. And it’s real, and disruptive and honest. It begins with a messy, sweaty and hungry man and ends with a beautiful epiphany of an idea.
It invites job applicants – lest you forget amidst the awesome storytelling – to believe what Clif Bar believes, “that food provides health, joy and energy to do the things we are passionate about.” People who do are then invited to join the tribe.
Number two: A too-little referenced study by Forrester about the business advantages of creativity that I just got my hot little hands on.
Conducted in 2014, the study found, “Companies that embrace creativity outperform peers and competitors on key business performance indicators, including revenue growth, market share and talent acquisition.” And check this out: Fifty-eight percent of survey respondents who said their firms foster creativity had 2013 revenues that exceeded their 2012 revenues by 10 percent or more.
And yet, by Forrester’s own research: 61 percent of companies don’t see their companies as creative. Forrester also found that creativity thrives with leadership support.
And there we have it. In the cosmic scope of life, it really doesn’t matter too much what I believe, even if I can “prove it” beyond just my own singular investment in beliefs and beauty.
Those charged to lead – companies, countries, organizations – must also invest in belief and beauty-first leadership and role-modeling in order to bring this very real, very powerful movement to a brand near you.
And we’d sure love to help.
Written by: Emily Soccorsy and cross-posted on LinkedIn Pulse
Emily Soccorsy + Justin Foster are cofounders of the intrinsic branding practice known as Root + River. Together with their defiantly different clients, they uncover then articulate the foundational elements of the brand. Then, they provide brand strategy and brand coaching as the brand is rolled out internally and externally. Obsessive about language and differentiation, Emily + Justin are also authors and speakers. Follow @rootandriver @fosterthinking and @emilyatlarge.