Brand Enlightenment

Are you familiar with the term HUMAN BRAND? 

A HUMAN BRAND is a brand with a dose of empathy, flexibility and humor. 

People are looking to brands to evolve to a higher state of consciousness by taking real, meaningful, even painful, action to make their lives – and the world we share – better. It's the difference between being HUMAN and being ENLIGHTENED.

The irony here? Many customers are far from enlightened themselves! After all, they co-created this planet warming, sugar rushing, socially damaging mess we're in, right along with brands. And now, they're looking for brands to embrace ENLIGHTENMENT for them.

So what does an enlightened brand look like?

Remember Apple and their "Think Different" campaign or the Nike "Just Do It" ads? Enlightened brands remain authentic while telling their story in a way that benefits the consumer on a deeper level. They are able to build a rapport and tell you WHY they do what they do instead of just What they do but then they go further and create bonds through meaningful engagement and customer service that goes hand in hand with the quality of the products,

Enlightened brands are:

RESTLESS: That means they're forever in search of new ways to make the world a better place, and to hold themselves to higher standards of fairness and responsibility.

EMPATHETIC: That means understanding and addressing customer pain points and working to make individual lives easier, faster, and more fun.

DEMANDING: Making individual lives better can also mean pushing consumers to overcome their human flaws, and become the people they want to be.

The truth is that in 2017, few brands are anywhere near true ENLIGHTENMENT. Most are deeply mired in ego. But any business can learn from the major brands that are taking their first steps, and the startups introducing the kind of ENLIGHTENED innovations that all brands should be working on!

Enlightened Brands are Engaged Brands.

It takes more than just a good product that is sustainable or organic. Those are important qualities but enlightenment comes from engagement and giving back to the communities that support your brand. Some samples are:


Telecoms company announces worldwide maternity pay guarantee

One powerful way for big brands to move closer to ENLIGHTENMENT? Let change start from the inside by creating a fairer, more equal or simply more fun, internal culture. In March 2015, Vodafone announced that it would implement a worldwide minimum level of maternity pay. All female staff will be entitled to 16 weeks of maternity leave on full pay, plus full pay for a 30-hour week for the first six months after their return to work. Vodafone claims the move will help staff who work in countries with little or no legal provision for maternity pay. The telecoms company employs around 100,000 people in 30 countries.

Diario ABC Color

Paraguayan newspaper launches free journalism school

ENLIGHTENMENT can mean empowering customers to realize their dreams of doing good in the world. In March 2015, Paraguayan newspaper Diario ABC Color launched two educational courses aimed at introducing the next generation to journalism. The free courses are held every Saturday, and students learn how to write news and opinion pieces and conduct interviews. Participating children also contribute to the Young Journalism newspaper, and radio channel Habemus Mess.

Gramming for Good & Gramforacause

Startups pair Instagrammers with nonprofits

Empowering consumers to do good in the world is a powerful way for an organization to show it understands ENLIGHTENMENT. In April 2015, Gramming for Good and Gramforacause launched platforms intended to connect socially conscious Instagrammers with nonprofits. The platforms want to help nonprofits spread the word about their work via relevant photography, and when matching photographers to organizations, will consider the type of photography sought by the nonprofit and the expected rate of pay.

Art Series Hotel Group

Guests reviewed online by hotel staff in return for discounts

Being DEMANDING can mean finding innovative new ways to improve customer behavior, creating an improved experience for everyone. In April 2015, Australia’s Art Series Hotel Grouplaunched Reverse Reviews: a promotion giving guests the chance to obtain discounts and upgrades in return for being reviewed. People staying at any of the group’s boutique hotels could opt in to take part, with their behavior and demeanor being ranked and reviews then published online. Any guests who gained ratings over four stars were rewarded with complimentary food and beverages, stays or upgrades.


Rescue dogs save festival goers from dying mobile devices

A step towards ENLIGHTENMENT can mean addressing even the smallest of first world problems, and in so doing making customers feel cared for. Visitors to the SXSW festival in March 2015 were saved from low cellphone battery life by St. Bernard rescue dogs. US battery pack manufacturer Mophieteamed up with the St. Bernard Rescue Foundation for the mophieRescue service. To have their batteries saved, attendees needed to send to a tweet to the brand with a screenshot of their battery icon and their current location, along with the hashtag #mophieRescue.

If you are a brand that is working towards enlightenment remember these key facts.

Good leadership motivates good people to make a good product. Be really clear as to what you want people to know about you. If you don't know what makes you different or special no one else is going to know.

Connect your brand deeper into people’s hearts and minds (that drives loyalty and sales); but not by manipulating those hearts and minds, but inspiring and empowering them. This is growth at one with the people; not at the expense of their ‘thrivability’.

Rachel zimbelman