Have You Connected To Your Cause?


Brands today strive harder than ever to rise above the din of conversations to make lasting impressions on their target audience.  Aligning your brand with a social cause that is in sync with your values and goals has become an important way to attract and keep a growing fan base of followers.

After presenting to an organization of non-profits last week on the importance of branding for their marketing efforts, it occurred to me how many of them try to reach a broad audience with their specific appeal, rather than align themselves with business or personal brands that could elevate them faster to broader recognition.

Companies that are successful in partnering with their customers for social causes share similar traits.  They start by considering their consumer’s purpose and needs (not just theirs), then engage them in a series of truly meaningful experiences that make an impression for a lifetime – not just a moment.  That life-long impact creates a more meaningful bond with the brand, and ultimately results in benefits directly to the bottom-line.

Social cause marketing isn’t just another marketing fad, it’s an opportunity to re-think how you connect with your customers, and how you might create a process that delivers truly meaningful communications that have an impact forever.

Mutual Values

If your brand is clearly defined, you’ll have a core set of values you can easily communicate.  When you align those values with another cause that people already support, it’s another important validation that your part of their tribe and culture.  Social media allows us to show our support with a simple click, which is a perfect opportunity to open the door to a much deeper relationship.  By creating messaging and online resources that align with the right cause, you’ll not only increase your brand’s awareness, but you’ll drive action and inspire others to follow your lead – which in turn strengthens your brand’s online appeal.

Finding The Right Fit

Your cause doesn’t need to come by an already established formal organization or nonprofit.   The key is identifying a cause that your brand and others can eagerly support.  The key is to find a connection  between your brand and a cause that makes sense – especially to your specific audience.

Start by asking yourself what are the things your service or product is invested in for the long run.  What do you really believe in?  What type of belief would inspire others to buy your products/services and support a cause at the same time?  While the process may seem a little callous at first, it’s critical to take into consideration how to partner with your cause in a way that benefits everyone – especially your brand.

Align The Messages

Ask yourself a few key questions before you commit to a cause.  Where is your brand now, and where does it want to be? By aspiring to what you want to become, you begin the motivation for uplifting the partnership between your brand, and your cause.  Focus on becoming inspirational and sharing stories that can resonate with your specific audience, and entice them to share with their circles of friends.

What can your cause engagement do to really inspire people?  What stories can you create that will undoubtedly be shared with your friends and their friends?

Resist the temptation to insert your message into the cause.  Authentic cause relationships must be honestly transparent.  Once your audience gets an inkling of an idea that you’re using the cause simple to benefit your brand – the benefits vanish.

However, once you engage the right partnership and align your campaign messaging with their cause, you’ll create something that resonates with your audience…not simply more information for them.  Be sure to stay focused, and don’t forget to exercise control to keep your messaging on task.

Here’s Your Chance To Think Big – Really Big

The smallest campaign can catch a wave of support if it’s properly positioned and delivered.  Social media enables even the smallest cause campaign to go viral – and it doesn’t take much other than transparency and honesty to reach thousands of supporters with very little investment.   While you’re building that relationship, don’t forget to dream big, and inspire others to follow that dream.

Now is not the time to think solely about your brand’s engagement – dream of how big you might grow your cause related campaign and how best to work toward that together for everyone’s mutual benefit.

What causes is your brand aligned with?  Can you share an example of how cause marketing has worked for your brand?

What’s in a brand name? Everything.


A great product or service name requires little or no introduction, explanation or advertising to give it power.

Of all the powerful forces in branding, marketing and advertising, a memorable brand name ranks one of the highest in importance.  It immediately connects your audience with an emotional tug, while helping define what makes you uniquely different – all in just a word or two.

Truly great brand names only come through a powerful positioning strategy – one that focuses in on the emotional appeal that can stir the hearts and minds of your market.  A great brand name can do all this by itself, and take a center place within an industry.

Because brand names, whether old or new have so much riding on them, I wince when it’s left to a few employees or friends as they toss around ideas – or worse yet…enter a contest to find the right way to communicate all the values in a brand.  While well intended, they’re not equipped to take the time to account for all the important aspects of landing a truly great name.  What about it’s memorability?  Positive or negative associations?  Competitors and trademarks – and especially domain name availability?

What do I think a great brand name does (in part)?

  • Easily communicates your brand strategy.
  • It should literally roll off the tongue.
  • Like the last puzzle piece, a good brand name fits perfectly.
  • And as most importantly, a great brand name is the ambassador of your company.

What your specific target market thinks of your brand name is much more important than any opinion of  any branding, marketing, advertising or naming expert (even us!).  And so, any great naming effort must utilize some fairly advanced methods to enable the market to react to your name before you decide on it.

No naming project is ever identical. There’s no set formula to arrive at a winner. The only thing you can really control is the kind of work you do to come up with a name. If you do the right kind of work, you’ll likely come up that one special word or phrase. Brand Identity Guru Inc. knows what “the right kind of work” is and has the skills necessary to follow through on that work. Hence, our motto, “Pump Up Your Brand.”

Although every brand or re-brand name process is unique, SmartBrand conducts a few key steps to help our clients review, assess, develop or rename their brands:

  • We’d start with an analytical survey of your competition. Which ones are a hit with the market?  Which miss…and why?   This information will help the naming team determine the specific positioning strategy for your brand’s name.
  • Positioning. Perhaps the hardest aspect of all, we’ll have to target your brand’s core values and create a foundation of messaging and ideas from which a truly winning brand name can emerge.
  • Truly great name development takes the positioning strategy, and look again at it from multiple angles to find ways you might leverage marketing and advertising to convey it in a truly unique and memorable way.
  • Consider Trademarking. We can screen a series of promising names with our legal counsel to find if there’s a feasibility of using them as brand names.  This is an important step to help avoid legal action by unknown competitors in the future.
  • Then the fun begins with some creative concepts and drafts. We might even consider some advertising treatments… all based on the stories we’ve helped create around your ideal positioning.
  • Finally…it’s time for a well though-out deliverable. We’ll give you a most important  short list of final, legally feasible names with an in-depth positioning strategy for each.

Once this foundation is established, the entire marketing, advertising, social media and public relations efforts fall easily into order.  Without a truly sound foundation to your brand name, you’ll struggle to find the right way to explain what you do – and find those who can be excited about buying from you.

What are some of the great brand names of our time?  Tell us who you think has succeeded in this important first step today?

Nevadaworks.com Campaign


Just over two months ago, I stepped into the role of “Interim Executive Director” to try and save our local community access station SNCAT (Sierra Nevada Community Access Television).   As you may know, public access is struggling to survive, let alone thrive across our nation; and I feel the public’s right to direct media access is one of the guarantees of freedom of speech we must all enjoy and protect.  Add to that our current need to use media to communicate all the possibilities and opportunities in today’s changing market, and I believe that access to media is more important today, than at any other time in our history.  We need, and deserve, the right to public media access.  So much for my soap-boxing!

As part of SNCAT’s operations, a contract with Nevadaworks was well underway, requiring SNCAT to provide training services to a group of individuals that continue to meet weekly for training and placement services.  In addition, SNCAT was retained to produce an entire brand launch campaign for the organization’s new job outreach effort “It’s About Jobs”.

Nothing substantial had been done on the campaign’s development for over six months, although all the fees had been paid to SNCAT in full for the campaign’s development.  Creative and strategic action on SNCAT’s part was long overdue, and our client, Nevadaworks, deserved something truly effective for their patience and dedication.

In less than two months, we conceived/scripted, designed, and developed a comprehensive media plan and advertising for this important community campaign by Nevadaworks.

Bus signage, newpaper ads, television and radio spots, and a wide ranging online brand/click campaign will all hit the strategic media channels targeted for the next 8 months.  I personally want to thank Lotus Communications, Jason Newmark at Singingwood Creative, and Fong Menante for their amazing efforts in launching this new brand with such grace and ease in this very short timeframe.

Check out the TV commercials below, and let us know what you think about this first part of the campaign!

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