Brand As Community

When I started my career on Madison Avenue years ago, I learned very quickly that a company’s “brand” was their alfa and omega, and therefore untouchable. Meaning, if you attempted to alter it, revise it, or change it, even a smidge, it was “off with your head!”

I remember working on a print ad for Aer Lingus, the Irish airlines, and my boss gave the Art Director their logo for placement in the ad. The Art Director, being the creative guy he was, played around with it a bit, changing the size and position of the tag line. OMG! Call in the troops. That poor boy crossed a line with their brand guidelines and there was hell to pay.

Thankfully with the advent of social media, I have seen corporations slowly create some wiggle room around what a brand can and cannot do. Some progressive companies these days are loosening the corporate reins and actually inviting their customers to co-create with them. Imagine that? Listening to your beloved customers – and acting on it.

That’s Brand As Community. A term Devi Records coined after reading my Brand As Soul post last week.

So instead of a top-down, “this is the way it is” approach, these companies have opened the gates of their highly-guarded corporate identities and agendas, and let the people in. Not with a two-way mirror and a pizza at a focus group, but actual authentic dialogue and engagement. I personally love brands that do that. I interact with them more, buy from them more, and I even would go so far to say trust them more.

Colleague, Elsie Maio, tells a story of global giant, Unilever, that does just that by seeing their customers “as people” and not “consumers of transactions,” she says. So instead of a me agenda, they strive to create a we agenda.

For instance, Unilever transformed crowdsourcing into crowd partnering and hosted a 24-hour line of dialogue with 2,300 people in 70 plus countries. That effort resulted in the Wonderbag. An inexpensive, non-electric portable slow cooker that continues to cook food for up to 12 hours without the use of additional electricity or fuel. This wonder product not only reduces the cost of cooking for poorer communities but reduces the health risks of breathing in dangerous fumes. Created by entrepreneur and activist, Sarah Collins, and turbocharged by Unilever, the Wonderbag product delivered “extreme mutual value with society,” as Elsie put it. And to boot, the overall project was twice as successful as forecasted. That’s Brand as Community.

For Growstone, a start-up horticultural products company my company, Mind Over Markets, worked with for many years, we continually invited our community to give us feedback, and out of that birthed some amazing ideas for products. When looking to name a new product, our Facebook community chose “Gnat Nix” hands down for our non-toxic topical soil cover that guards your indoor plants from destructive gnats. We ran with it.

Thich Nhat Hanh, the Vietnamese Buddhist monk and peace activist said, “The next Buddha may take the form of a community, a community practicing understanding and loving kindness, a community practicing mindful living. And the practice can be carried out as a group, as a city, as a nation.” 

And may I add….as a brand.

So how do you create Brand As Community? How can you rally your customers and get closer to them than ever before? Here are some questions to ponder:

  • What shared purpose or passions do you have (or want to have) with your customers or clients?
  • What values are they looking for from your brand?
  • How can you become even more valuable to your customers to authentically deepen the connection?
  • What can you do that will make others appreciate what your brand has to offer as a whole?
  • What is an authentic, brand-relevant way to harness the power of social impact?
  • How can you communicate that authentically?           

Take some time to go deep with these. I promise the path will fruitful. If you need a little help, join Devi and I for our 1/2 day Deep Dive: Creating From Core: How to Get to the Soul of Your Brand and Connect with your Customers More Deeply Than Ever Before. 

 



Brand As Soul

Brand? Soul? Sounds like an oxymoron putting these two words in one sentence. Outside of business circles and investor boardrooms, I have witnessed through the years that “branding” can be a bad word.

For instance, a potential client asked me to help him with his brand. He said it was “amorphous” and therefore he felt like his business was “floundering”. When I asked him what he thought his brand was he winced — then blurted, “Branding is just a way companies manipulate you into buying something you don’t want.”

No wonder he was stuck. But he had a point. And it was clear to me branding has gotten a bad rap. Thanks to the masterful minds of Madison Avenue with weasel words and imagery carefully crafted to lead you somewhere you may not even know you’re going – or want to.

I know. I was one of them.

But what if it doesn’t have to be that way? What if at the very center of your brand was “soul”? What if that was the core of your business’ purpose? Your reason for being?

Eckhart Tolle defines soul as “who you are in essence”. Well, that is exactly what a brand is too. The very essence of who you are. What you stand for. Your stake in the ground. And it doesn’t have to just be the bottom line.

A beautiful example of this is Toms, the $400 million company that gives away one pair of shoes to an impoverished child for every pair it sells.

So, what they do (manufacture shoes) is not who they are. Who they are in essence is a company that improves lives. They just happen to do it through manufacturing shoes.

Let’s take another shoe company, Zappos, the billion dollar-plus online shoe retailer.

What they do (sell shoes online) is not who they are. They are a company that is dedicated to world-class customer service that “delivers happiness” to every person they sell to. Their customers are everything – and they live and breathe that every day. That is their stake in the ground. Their reason for being. The very soul of their business. They just happen to do it through selling shoes online.

Get it?

So, what is your brand’s essence? Its soul?

Here are some questions to help get your brand soul juices flowing:

·       Why do you exist?

·       Why is that important right now?

·       What shared purpose or passion do you have (or want to have) with your customers or potential customers?

·       What values are they looking for from your brand?

·       How can you become even more valuable to deepen the connection?

·       What is an authentic, brand-relevant way to harness the power of social impact in your business?

·       How can you communicate that authentically?

Let these questions steep deep inside. They are designed to squeeze the soul out of your brand. Share them with your team or key staff members to create a collective vision that will ultimately attract your ideal customers or clients.

When you approach your brand this way, and dig into its very soul, to serve not just sell, you are joining an invisible band of brands that believe business can be a force for good.

And that is good for everybody. 

Want to get to the soul of your brand? Join Devi and I for a 1/2 Day Deep Dive “CREATING FROM CORE: How to Get to the Soul of Your Brand and Connect With Your Customers More Deeply Than Ever Before” 

 



Sustainability – The Key to a Successful, Resilient Business

In this day and age, sustainability is essential to the success of any business or enterprise. Has it been on your mind? Well the time is ripe for pausing to reflect to find out if incorporating sustainability into your business model might drastically improve your success rate. Here are some questions to ask yourself and explore through analysis if the answer is, YES.

“Is it the right thing to do?”

“Is it the financially rewarding thing to do?”

“Will bad things happen if we don’t do it?”

The Ultimate 10 “Whys” of Sustainability

To best answer these 3 “Whys” regarding sustainability, the Ultimate 10 “Whys” identified by Bob Willard author, speaker, and founder of Sustainability Advantage, must be explored.

  • Purpose activation: Will our company purpose, mission, and values be achieved if we improve our sustainability performance?
  • Revenue growth: How much will our revenue grow if we improve our sustainability performance?
  • Expense savings: How much will our carbon, energy, materials, water, waste, and other expenses be reduced if we improve our sustainability performance?
  • Employee hiring and retention savings: How will employee hiring and retention expenses be reduced if we improve our sustainability performance?
  • Employee productivity and engagement: How will employee productivity and engagement be improved if we improve our sustainability performance?
  • Bottom-line profit improvement: How much will our profit improve if we improve our sustainability performance?
  • ROI strength: Will the ROI meet our normal hurdle rate and payback period norms and by compelling enough to choose the sustainability initiatives ahead of other projects?
  • Balance sheet strength: Will the company balance sheet be improved if we improve our sustainability performance?
  • Stock market performance: Will company market valuation be improved if we improve our sustainability performance?
  • Risk avoidance: What will the financial risks will we incur if we don’t improve our sustainability performance?

On the journey towards sustainability, these questions are a resource to guide you towards building a more sustainable business venture. They will assist in the monetized assessment of all potential tangible and intangible benefit areas for each sustainability initiative and clarify how to best take the first step.  Business entrepreneurs face so many unknowns in this world, from changes in staffing, fluctuations in the economy to social and political upheaval in parts of the world.  Sustainability can be the framework to build and grow a business that is adaptable and resilient as well as one that not only generates profit but benefits people and the planet.

So what are you waiting for? Take advantage of this resource and go forth with making change for the “good of business.”

Source: Sustainable Brands



Find Your Tribe, Grow Your Tribe, Love Your Tribe, then Market to Your Tribe

Find Your Tribe, Grow Your Tribe, Love Your Tribe, then Market To Your Tribe from carolyn parrs on Vimeo.

When the head of marketing for a Big Green Brand asked me how I grew my Women Of Green audience so fast, I blurted, “I love my tribe, that’s how!” How unmarketing of me I thought at the time. But after writing literally hundreds of social media posts and articles for my tribe and my clients’ pages, and watching these tribes grow quickly, I realized how important this really was. Building your tribe has everything to do with resonance and passion. And when that’s strong within you, you’ll see that the more you give, the more you’ll get back.

Sounds like life, huh?

Well if this resonates with you, and you want to know more on how to build your tribe and reach your ideal audience, you are invited to my free webinar: Find Your Tribe, Grow Your Tribe, Love Your Tribe, then Market to Your Tribe. 

This is not another Marketing 101 class. I will be sharing my in-the-trenches experience and knowledge on:

  • Where to look to find the people that want to connect with you
  • How to capture their attention so you and your company are seen and heard through the marketing clutter out there
  • How to be a continual, trusted source that they tell their friends and colleagues about
  • Specific strategies and platforms to grow and market to your tribe without being perceived as a marketing machine

If you consider yourself a conscious marketer and feel stuck or bewildered on how to build it so that they will come, then come! I promise you will bring back some solid, tangible ideas and systems that can change your game for the better!

Register: Here



Get Brand Ready – Free Webinar with Carolyn Parrs

GET BRAND READY. Free Webinar with Carolyn Parrs, CEO of Mind Over Markets

Do this before you brand anything

A well-designed brand and position can put you light years ahead of everyone else your market. But before you invest a dime in creating a brand or going through a rebrand, listen to this video on how to GET BRAND READY. I explain what you need to do before hiring a brand professional, graphic artist or your cousin so that you can avoid the costly mistakes so many businesses make.

In my free webinar “GET BRAND READY: The 5-step process that marketing experts use for creating a high-impact brand that cuts through the clutter you will learn:

  • How uncovering the “why” beneath your brand is the most important first step you can take.
  • How to get to the heart of your brand message so you are not another me-too product or service.
  • The key ingredients to a creating a killer slogan that captures your unique value and sets you apart from the rest.
  • The importance of the “look and feel” of your graphic mark or typography in communicating your brand’s personality and mission. Yes, a picture is worth a 1000 words.

Click here to sign up for my free webinar “GET BRAND READY”.

Whether you are branding a product or service  – or yourself (I have done all three), don’t miss this content-rich webinar to learn how to effectively prepare so that you create a powerful, memorable green brand that cuts through the clutter and delivers!

Register Here


“Carolyn and Mind Over Markets have provided outstanding insights into the fast growing market of sustainable business for our members. Her counsel often means the difference between success and failure in this very competitive market.”

—Allan Oliver, Former CEO, New Mexico Green Chamber of Commerce

 

“A golden recommendation for Mind Over Markets. They took our company to new heights. Their work is wonderful, creative, responsive, resourceful, and very reliable.”

–Amrita Reitz, President, BioShield Healthy Living Paints


Register Here



The Art of Collaboration Webinar Today!

There is nothing like finding the right partnerships and collaborations to expand your reach fast. If you do it right, you not only increase your influence dramatically but your income as well.

Within a matter of weeks, by partnering with a local non-profit that was close to my heart, my company, Mind Over Markets, won a 24K Branding contract from one of their members. And that’s not all. Soon after, I was invited to speak at an event produced by the non-profit. My 45-minute presentation resulted in a robust marketing project a few months later.

Yes, Collaboration Is Currency!

Come to my free webinar “Art of Collaboration: Creating Successful Partnerships to Expand Your Reach and Advance Your Vision”. I will share with you how I did this with my business – plus other successful collaborations so you can:

•   Get clear on what you want to achieve in order to attract the ideal partnerships for your brand

•   Identify the brands or organizations that can expand your reach and align with your vision

•   Leverage your social, relational and non-monetary assets to create cost-effective collaborations that achieve your goals

•   Spread your ideas across multiple marketing channels for the greatest impact and numbers

Click here to sign up for my free webinar “The Art of Collaboration: Creating Successful Marketing Partnerships to Expand Your Reach and Advance Your Vision”.

Collaborations and partnerships are one of the most affordable and easiest ways to expand your reach and align yourself with other companies and non-profits that share your vision. Don’t miss this content-rich webinar to learn how you can successfully do it too.

 

mom_logo_FB           WOG logo final 2016

Photo Source: !anaughty!/flickr



The Art of Collaboration Webinar: Creating Successful Marketing Partnerships to Expand Your Reach and Advance Your Vision

 

For those of you that know me well, you know that my main mantra is “We’re All In This Together”. That exact phrase has helped me win marketing partners and lucrative contracts for several years now. Why?

Because I deeply believe this. And so do others.

In fact, more than 60% of small businesses today are working together to find new customers because it can be one of the most effective and cost-efficient ways to grow a business. Actually, I feel we women are naturally wired to connect and collaborate. To work in community. To know we’re all in this together. And can do something about it.

But some of the mental roadblocks I often hear are “How do I find the right partners to work with, Carolyn? And then when I find them, how do I collaborate in a way that’s true to my brand while advancing my vision?”

That is what my free Art of Collaboration webinar is all about: Creating Successful Partnerships to Expand Your Reach and Advance Your Vision.

In my webinar, you will learn how to:

  • Get clear on what you want to achieve in order to attract the ideal partnerships for your brand
  • Identify the brands or organizations that can expand your reach and align with your vision
  • Leverage your social, relational and non-monetary assets to create cost-effective collaborations that achieve your goals
  • Spread your ideas across multiple marketing channels for the greatest impact and numbers

Click here to sign up for my free webinar “The Art of Collaboration: Creating Successful Marketing Partnerships to Expand Your Reach and Advance Your Vision”.

Successful marketing collaborations can quickly move your movement light years ahead when you join forces through a shared vision. Join me next Wednesday and learn how you can do this too.

Here’s to the game changer in you!

– Carolyn Parrs

Carolyn Parrs-Mind-Over-Markets

Carolyn Parrs has been working with game changers her entire life. She has trained them, coached them, launched them, and marketed them through numerous vehicles such as Mind Over Markets, her strategic marketing communications and design company that builds brands and a better world. For over a decade, she has helped emerging and established purpose-driven businesses and organizations excel in messaging, brand presence, social media, marketing communications and more.

Carolyn is also the founder of Women Of Green, an robust online community and multi-media blog dedicated to “Turning Up the Volume” of the feminine voice in green. And most recently, she hosted and co-produced the global online summit “Women As Game Changers” featuring 27 powerful women who are changing the game on the planet for good.



4 Simple, Yet Profound Practices of Women Game Changers

 

Women, this is our time. The “Game Changer” in all of us is arising. Strong and powerful. Smart and Passionate. Vulnerable and willing. I love what’s unfolding for us.

So, I made this FREE 3-part video series for you. 

It was inspired by all the powerful women of our “Women As Game Changers” Summit. After listening to their interviews, I saw an overarching theme in each of them. And here it is:

When you grow your business or organization from what you love most, you transform yourself – and the world.

That’s right. Women game changers are out to transform the world, and in the process they are transforming themselves! Now that’s paradigm shifting.

When I dug in even deeper to the interviews, what I also discovered were 4 simple, yet profound practices women game changers do without fail. In this video series, I bring to light each of them and show you how to weave them into your daily life.

Click here to get my FREE 3-part video series “The 4 Simple, yet Profound Practices of Women Game Changers”.

Here’s what you will learn:

  • The most important practice every game changer needs to learn to have the greatest impact on the planet.
  • Simple rituals that game changers like Oprah, Obama and Lady Gaga do to fill themselves up with light and love so that they can be as powerful as possible.
  • How to strengthen the game changer in you so you can accomplish the important work you are meant to do.
  • The inner and outer game of game changers – and how to integrate the two.

I know you have game changer seeds sprouting within you or you wouldn’t be reading this. So go ahead and click here now to get my FREE 3-part video series “The 4 Simple, yet Profound Practices of Women Game Changers”

“I didn’t classify myself as a game changer until I started working with Carolyn. I knew I was affecting change in the lives of people known and unknown, however, Carolyn’s coaching has greatly expanded my perception of the vastness of what I am already doing and the breadth of further possibilities. Within just three months the game and the “joy of playing it” has changed for me and those I serve.  Thank you, Carolyn!”

— Karen Marie Jones Meadows, Artist & Entrepreneur, One Purpose Productions


Carolyn parrs mind over marketsCarolyn Parrs 

Carolyn Parrs has been working with game changers her entire life. She has trained them, coached them, launched them, and marketed them through numerous vehicles such as Mind Over Markets, her strategic marketing communications and design company that builds brands and a better world. For over a decade, she has helped emerging and established purpose-driven businesses and organizations excel in messaging, brand presence, social media, marketing communications and more.

As a certified Marketing, Business and Life Coach, she works one-on-one and in groups with entrepreneurs, thought leaders, and small and large companies to make profound change in the world.

Carolyn is also the founder of Women Of Green, an robust online community and multi-media blog dedicated to “Turning Up the Volume” of the feminine voice in green. And most recently, she hosted and co-produced the global online summit “Women As Game Changers” featuring 27 powerful women who are changing the game on the planet for good.

In her home town of Santa Fe, she has a strong local presence as an environmental leader and advocate — and has been the past President for 3 years and Board member of their Santa Fe Green Chamber.

Her most important role however is being mom to her two children and pups, Heart and Soul. She loves to play hooky in the winter months to snow ski in the magical mountains of Santa Fe.



5 Ways to Infuse Soul into your Brand

Want to keep your customers happy? Want to keep them coming back? Infuse some soul into your brand. Toms Shoes knows how to do it. So does Southwest airlines. They have taken the top-down branding model and turn it sideways. So instead of being in a hierarchical relationship like manufacturer/buyer or airline/customer, they have created a reciprocal relationship with their customers, or as I like to call them, their “tribe”. This brand mind-shift can happen when you infuse some soul into your brand.

What do I mean by soul? Seeing your customers as partners instead of someone to sell to. Becoming “one force with a common goal”. This mind-shift opens a whole new world for brands. This, in turn, helps you become meaningfully different in the marketplace. But remember, this is not a brand strategy or tactic, it’s a paradigm shift.

Here are 5 ways to begin.

1. Serve don’t sell

When I started my career on Madison Avenue, I worked for one of the largest advertising agencies in the world. I was a young copywriter in the creative department working on brands like Brim Coffee, Vicks vitamins, Zest, Ivory Shampoo, Tropicana and the list goes on. The agency’s motto: It isn’t creative unless it sells. Every commercial had to have 8-9 “copy points” crammed into a 30-second spot in order to sell, sell, sell the brand. The result: A culture that’s sick of getting sold to.

Smart marketers today know how much that can be a turn off to their customers. So instead of the sales pitch, they find ways to serve them instead. How can I really help you? What can I serve up to make your life easier or solve a problem? What can we do together? When a brand reframes their relationship as service, instead of selling, soul happens.

2. Give to give – not to get

This is a hard one for marketers. We were trained from the beginning that “if we give you this, we want that in return”. But just like in a relationship with someone you love, if there are strings attached, they know it. Now I am not saying that you give it all away all the time. What I am saying is when you give, let it be just that. Giving. That creates soul. And that’s a customer turn on.

The beverage company, Naked Juice, created a campaign asking their tribe to take a photo of themselves with their favorite fruit or vegetable and post it on social media. In turn, they would donate 10% of produce to charity. No strings attached. This campaign was wildly successful and engaged over 56K fans. Soul is good.

3. Engage, engage, engage

Social media has changed the game. Brands that stand on their ivory tower and drip out corporate messages in a silo, will be obsolete. Customers want to engage with brands. And the brands that create a community-like space to encourage that, get big benefits.

From the get-go Growstone, a growing medium made out of recycled glass, did that. They engaged with their tribe by asking them for help with naming products. Or giving away free t-shirts and encouraging growers to take a photo of themselves wearing it in cool places around the world. In under 3 years, their Facebook tribe went from 0-40K passionate fans. Why? Every communication we created was about eliciting a conversation, an idea, feedback, or a better way to do something. Our customers became brand advocates on their own. What could be better than that?

4. Commit to a cause or purpose

A Global Research Study called Brand Sustainable Futures polled over 30K people and revealed that 80% of consumers expect companies to play a significant part in resolving societal problems, from jobs to donations to minimizing pollution. Yes, people want brands to contribute to a meaningful purpose.

Now drive that home by taking this to a whole new level and become a purpose-driven brand. That means purpose, the “Bigger Why” you exist in the first place, is built right into your company’s culture. There are 7 essential questions to ask yourself to get to your Bigger Why. Stay tuned for that in right here in this column.

5. Let love lead the way

Now this may sound like the most unbranding thing to say, but it’s not. If you want to create committed, passionate, happy customers, love them up.

When I started my online community called Women Of Green, the Marketing Director of a green guide that showcased over 5,000 green brands asked me how I grew my tribe so fast. I immediately said to him, “Because I love them and they know it.” When your voice and heart are true, people know it. And that goes double for your clients or customers. They are human beings and can feel the difference between being talked at or talked with. Infuse your communications with a “feeling” of belonging, and you will infuse your brand with soul.

How do you bring soul to your brand? Share it on our Mind Over Markets Facebook page. Need some brand soul guidance? Email me here: cparrs@mindovermarkets.com.

Carolyn Parrs
CEO, Mind Over Markets, Buidling Brands and a Better World
Founder, Women Of Green, Turn Up the Volume
carolyn_parrs_on_couch

Carolyn Parrs is the CEO and Founder of Mind Over Markets, a strategic marketing communications and design company that builds brands and a better world. For over a decade, she has helped emerging and established green, sustainable, healthy, wellness and purpose-driven businesses and organizations excel in messaging, brand presence, social media, marketing communications and more.

She is also a certified Marketing, Business and Life Coach working one-on-one and in groups with entrepreneurs, thought leaders, and small and large companies to make profound change in their worlds.

Carolyn is the founder of Women Of Green, an robust online community and multi-media blog dedicated to “Turning Up the Volume” of the feminine voice in green.

She is the mother of two and lives with her daughter and pups, Heart and Soul. Carolyn loves to play hooky in the winter months to snow ski in the magical mountains of Santa Fe.



Purpose Equals Profit: How to Create a High Impact, Profitable, Purpose-Driven Brand that Can Change the World

Imagine if you could align your purpose with the work you do.

And imagine if that work resulted in a highly fulfilling, financially thriving business or organization?

Thousands of companies and entrepreneurs are doing just this — putting their missions where their mouths are and making money AND a difference.

You can too. Want to know how?

You are personally invited to my free online webinar, “Purpose Equals Profit: How to create a high impact, profitable, purpose-driven brand that can change the world.”

In this webinar you will learn:

  • What a purpose-driven brand is and is not
  • How to get to the why behind your brand and uncover your deeper purpose
  • How to transform your why into a compelling brand position and message that connects deeply with your customers
  • Case studies of how small and large companies are highly profitable from being purpose-driven

If aligning your deeper purpose with the work you do is paramount to you, don’t miss this content-rich webinar. It just may change your life.

Register for “Purpose Equals Profit: How to create a high Impact, profitable, purpose-driven brand that can change the world.”

Let’s change the world for the better!