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Step 1 For Being Meaningful In 2011 - Be Empathetic

What it means holistically:

Put on the shoes of others. Walk the path they trod every day. Taste what they eat. Read what they read. Amuse yourself as they do. Get a sense of their worries. Hold their dreams in your hands. Forget yourself. Be another. Understand.

What it means for brand-owners:

Meaning flows when you connect to the values, beliefs, interests and aspirations of the people vital to your success.

The people vital to your success are not only your employees and customers, but everyone in the broad spectrum of people who make your business viable including investors, suppliers, distributors, partners, regulators, community leaders, reporters, bloggers and so on.

Lots of different shoes to walk in, to be sure. 

But one thing unites them all: their humanity.

And this is, we believe, the level at which meaningful brands succeed. They seek to connect with a wide array of disparate people at a common level. They don't aim for the lowest common denominator, rather they target the highest possible denominator.

They see a world in which everyone is seeking meaning.

They step out of themselves and carefully consider the human need.

They then look inside to identify what they value, what they believe, what interests them and what they aspire to do and explore how to align that with the human desire for meaning.

They then change the way they reach out to people in every respect. Their intent, attitude and actions evolve. Their interactions become more profound and the intent behind them becomes more and more clear. 

This emotive evolution wraps meaning around what was: the mission, vision and values; the strategies; the products; the services; the marketing; the customer service; the advertising; the brand; and, perhaps most important, the way employees act, react and interact with their peers and the outside world.

And slowly, but surely, an empathetic and meaningful brand ascends.