The punch list for starting a company always includes vision, mission and value statements that express the intent and underlying beliefs of the organization. Rarely does the punch list include the brand position – but it should. Here’s why.

Whereas the first three statements reflect the entrepreneurial spirit of the founders to build something, they do not address how the company will differentiate itself competitively. That is the job of the brand position and it is a major reason the brand needs to be a part of the corporate strategy from day one.

In my work as a business consultant, I often get involved with companies who are at a crossroads about their identity. They have outgrown the original focus, merged with other entities, expanded into new markets, or otherwise made changes that cloud the picture of who they are.

Often times, the brand development process provides so much clarity of purpose, the company subsequently writes or rewrites its vision and mission statements so everything points in the same direction. That is a clear sign the brand position needs to be the fourth mandatory corporate statement for managing a business and creating a strong culture.

The Four Essential Corporate Statements

Most of us are familiar with vision, mission and value statements, but it can be a little unclear how yet another corporate statement – the brand position – might fit in. So here is a brief description of each type of statement and how it relates to the brand:

Vision Statement

The most effective vision statement presents a description of the world as it would exist if the organization were to succeed in achieving its grandest aspirations. It is inspirational, clear, memorable and concise. And it helps give the brand meaning and purpose.

Mission Statement

Mission statements can be duller than a prehistoric kitchen knife if you let them. It’s no wonder they rarely make a public appearance once written. But, at its best, a mission statement is an effective expression of an organization’s reason for existence and provides the story behind the brand.

Value Statements

The values are principles that define how employees will conduct business as they pursue the vision and execute the mission. Companies that actively promote, discuss and reinforce their values internally create a culture that is capable of delivering brand promise to the market.

Brand Statement

The brand position defines the organization’s distinction in the market – its competitive edge. It is the only one of the four statements that is driven by market needs and competitive differentiation, so having it is critical to the success of the organization.

Case Study: Tesla

Tesla is an interesting example because has evolved its business strategy in pursuit of its brand. It turns out that building the ultimate electric car brand involves a significant investment in the solar power and battery storage technology businesses. Here are how their four corporate statements inspire Tesla’s purpose and build the brand:

Tesla Vision

Tesla’s vision is to create a world without carbon emission vehicles. Is this achievable? It doesn’t matter. What’s important is that people who share that vision believe it is something worth pursuing.

Tesla Mission

Tesla originally intended to eliminate carbon emission vehicles by accelerating “the world’s transition to sustainable transport”. In 2016, the company replaced the word “transport” with “energy” to reflect their how the development of battery technology and solar power were critical to the mission. Both support the brand but reflect the evolving strategy for getting there.

Tesla Values

“Move fast. Do the impossible. Constantly innovate. We are ALL IN.” These are just four of the six corporate values that help employees understand how they need to approach their jobs to make the company successful. All the Tesla values are infused with energy and passion for the cause. That makes for an inspired brand.

Brand Position

“An electric car without compromises.” It’s beautiful. It’s fast. It’s clean. And the constant flow of customer data is driving further innovation. No other company is as focused on this goal as Tesla.

The Brand Position is Essential

The essence of the Brand Establishment philosophy is the brand strategy is a required element of corporate success. No matter the size of company, industry, or business model.

By adding the brand position as the fourth essential corporate statement, organizations will not only be able to define what drives them but will also be able to pinpoint what will help them win. After all, isn’t that why you are in business?


Grant Kimball
Certified Brand Strategist
Brand Incite
Portland, Oregon

The name for your company, big or small, could make or break you. And how you name your products and services could help or hinder your ability to grow. Picking a name for a business / product / service can be the most challenging yet exciting thing you do. But how do you know if your name is right?

First, let’s talk about brand. When deciding on a name for your company, think about your company’s brand. Does that name fit your company’s goals? Attitudes? Values? Business Plan? Mission? Vision?

As Certified Brand Strategists, we believe a company’s brand should be defined by what makes that company unique. A company’s uniqueness could be its employees, services, products, etc. It is about who you are, not just about what you do. Products change and so does your company’s focus, so make sure that your name can grow with the organization.

Create a list and begin to rate them against each other. Here are some quick questions to ask:

  • Does it relate to your uniqueness or products?
  • Does it sound and look good?
  • Does it separate your company from your competitors?
  • Does is celebrate your mission?
  • Can you explain it easily and is it memorable?
  • Does it inspire and create connections?
  • Does it establish value?

Your name should differentiate your company in the marketplace, celebrate your uniqueness and begin to build your brand. The right name can help you connect with customers, and set you up for success. Therefore, choosing the right name to build your brand around is extremely vital and a huge step in creating a successful business.

Your name is the first step in building your brand, it is your personality and you have to embrace it fully so that your can fearlessly live your brand every day.

Brand Architecture

Naming doesn’t stop there. How do you begin to name your products and services?

First, your business and brand strategy have to align. You could name your products like Apple: iPhone, iPad, iMac or like P&G: Tide, Swiffer, Crest.  And there are many other types of architecture. Each has its merits but both align themselves to the business and brand strategy of the parent company.

Apple’s products all support the overarching Apple brand. All the products live the central brand experience of Apple. iPhone can not stand by itself but needs the Apple brand to be relevant.

P&G and it’s family of brands is set up differently. Each brand stands on its own. Each brand supports the portfolio of P&G but it’s allows each brand to establish specific and targeted audiences separate from the overarching brand. P&G can buy, create or sell brands in it’s portfolio to make it’s business stronger.

These are questions you have to ask. Should each product have it’s own brand? Should they be generic names? How close should they relate to the company name? The solution? A strong brand strategy founded on the uniqueness of each product and a well-defined brand architecture that provided clarity, leveraged brand equity and made a meaningful connection with customers and stakeholders.

How do you get there? Start by asking these questions:

  1. What differentiates each of your products – what are its unique value propositions and the evidence to support your claims?
  2. Are the different brands and sub-brands in your portfolio sufficiently differentiated from one another?
  3. Do your customers understand the differentiation?
  4. How does each of your products relate to and support each other?
  5. How does each product relate to the corporate brand?
  6. How does each product support the company’s goals?
  7. How well do the existing brands support the corporate positioning and company name?
  8. Is your brand portfolio greater than the sum of its parts?

Since brands and their strategies can’t be developed in a vacuum, use consumer research and insights, competitive analyses, market insights and your understanding of your company’s business goals when you think about your responses. Remember, it all starts with discovering your differentiation. That’s the foundation for all of your brand strategies and architecture – and the messaging and creative tactics that follow.


Darcy Zehe is a Certified Brand Strategist and Chief Operating Officer and Matthew Blazer is a Certified Brand Strategist and Chief Creative Officer at BrandPivot. He leads a team to develop brand strategy, direction and creative execution, and she oversees the client’s projects and directs the agency operations.


Your Brand is the essence of who you are. Your Brand is what distinguishes you from your competition. Your Brand offers a distinct set of promises to your customers. And, the performance of your Brand—what it actually delivers—is the single most important asset that your Brand will ever possess. A strong performing Brand—a Brand that is tightly aligned with its Brand promises—is like manna from Brand heaven.

I often get asked, how does that happen…that Promise + Performance thing? How do great Brands do it? Where does their Brand mojo come from? Quite simply, strong Brands stand for something. They are constant, consistent, and deliberate in their actions.

So, how do strong Brands get there? It requires an introspective dive into the innermost reasons of why you exist. It is truly discovering and understanding your distinction, your UVP’s (Unique Value Promises), and then using those promises to drive your performance and create a master plan for how your distinction will be communicated.

Recently I was in a meeting with the Leadership Team of our long-time client Pekin Insurance, a regional P&C/Life carrier we have worked with for six decades. A half a dozen years ago, Hult guided Pekin through a Brand Development initiative, during which time the company’s distinction was codified as: Pekin Insurance goes Beyond the Expected® for their independent agents and policyholders. In this recent meeting, their CEO, Scott Martin, received an email from a member of their management team updating him on an initiative that was in its final stages.

The manager proudly reported on the status of the efforts of his team. He summarized, in some detail, that the sum total of their efforts that had lead this point “lives true to Pekin’s Brand promise to go Beyond the Expected®” and then went on to describe how the anticipated performance of the efforts individually matched up to each and every one of the Pekin Insurance Brand Values that they had adopted as part of their Brand Development process. Wow.

Promise + Performance. Pekin’s Brand Development process unearthed the previously unspoken promise on which the company had built on nearly a century of success. During the discovery phase of our engagement, we heard testimonials that spoke clearly to the company’s unwavering commitment to consistently and constantly go Beyond the Expected®.

As a Certified Brand Strategist (CBS), we use key insights and a wide-range of Brand Discovery methodologies to help our clients discover the truth that lives within their Brand. At the very core, we seek clarity and internal alignment by asking questions in and around these 4 key insights:


  1. Who you are today

It is important to start this process by establishing this baseline. We begin with the leadership team to unearth the multitude of facts about an organization and discover “what you do and how you do it”. By eliminating the facts that do not set you apart, we can find what is truly unique to you. This comes from how you live your Brand every day, and from the stories told by the leadership team, management, staff, and customers.


  1. What you do differently

Discovering what you do differently will set you apart from your competitors, and help customers choose you. Your Claim of Distinction is the combination of tangible and intangible characteristics that make your Brand unique. It’s what consumers think and feel when they interact with your Brand. It’s you, it’s your employees—it’s not your logo.

As a Certified Brand Strategist, I focus my team on helping organizations discover and create strategies to help them continue to advance their distinction in the marketplace. The Brand Establishment is an important part of that process. As the only Brand Strategy Certification body in North America, they focus on Brand like no other organization.

Once your Claim of Distinction is discovered, we work with your organization to ensure it is backed with Evidence of Performance—actually being what you claim to be by living it out every day and clearly communicating it to customers. When this happens, you build trust and Brand loyalty with your customers.


  1. Why you do what you do

Your organization’s “why” is the reason you wake up every morning to do what you do. It’s the true emotion behind your Brand. When you start your Brand Development process by discovering your “why”, it will transform the way your organization views your Brand and will build distinction amongst your competitors.


  1. What you are capable of becoming

Focus inward and align your Business Strategy with your Brand Strategy and your People Strategy. When your organization’s culture backs up the value you are communicating on a daily basis, it provides evidence to customers and builds trust—leading to Brand loyalty. And, it gives your organization to launch forward into even greater endeavors. You use your strong truthful roots (not hype) to build your Brand story for the future. Powerful stuff!

Building your Brand Distinction is important. If you focus on clarity and alignment around these 4 key insights, you will be heading in the right direction. Once your organization can encompass the value of your distinction, it will transform the way you and your team, at every level, view your Brand. And, it will make for a more powerful performance of your Brand. Giddy up.

Hear a story of Brand performance directly from a Pekin Insurance policyholder, Claims Adjuster and Independent of how the Pekin Insurance came through during a catastrophic event and performed Beyond the Expected.



Jim Flynn
President/CEO | Certified Brand Strategist | Speaker
Hult Marketing
Empowering Brand Momentum®



Brand development is a process that, when properly executed, can produce results that drive both top and bottom line expectations inside the c-suite, AND better position your company in the minds of your customers.

However, conditions must be right (notice I didn’t say perfect) in order for your new brand building venture to be successful. Before you begin, you need to get real and ask yourself these five important questions.

1. Do You Have Total Buy-In From Everyone in the C-Suite?

If the CEO, CMO, and CFO don’t believe in the branding process and the tangible financial outcomes, you’ll never get it off the ground. Brand development is something that needs to start from the top. It’s a culture change. Everyone in the company needs to know how important the process is, and only the CEO can make that crystal clear.

2. Do You Know Why Your Brand Matters, or Should Matter in the Eyes of the Customers?

You should know why you’re in business in the first place. Is it just to make a profit? Probably not. Behind every great brand is a story of why they are in business. Find yours. It’s worth its weight in gold.

3. Do You Know What Differentiates Your Brand From Your Competitors?

Many companies are in a price-driven commodity type businesses. Why drive to Walmart when I can go to Target? Why go to Burger King when I can go to McDonald’s? Every brand has something that makes them different than the competition. (hint: don’t say “best service” or “lowest prices”) Your differentiation is your brand essence. Protect it and be true to it.

4. Can You Prove It?

If you can prove those points of how and why you are different, you’ll be better positioned in the eyes of your customers. Perhaps you say you have the best selection of auto parts in the industry, yet customers consistently can’t get the parts they need from you, there’s a disconnect. If you make a claim of distinction around your brand, you better be able to follow through on it.

5. Can You Continue to Prove it?

Big deal, you proved it. Can you keep proving it? If you claim to have the best-trained group of plumbers in Atlanta, then you better keep training them, over and over. If not, your competition will overtake you before you know it and your claim of distinction will become antiquated – and your customers will notice. Make it a point to continue to prove your claim(s) of distinction and stay true to your brand essence.

So, did you pass? Are you ready to embark on the brand development process? Branding your business is a difficult job, but if you’ve asked the right questions, you’ll be well on your way to building a company that is successful in both your P&L and your customers’ eyes.

The marketing world is buzzing these days about “brand” and brand development strategies. In fact, a web search for “brand development” returns almost 3.5 billion results. That’s more than 3,000,000,000 distinct web pages that want to tell you the best way to develop, implement and manage your brand. On the subject of ROI, however, most of those websites are surprisingly quiet. The reason for this is simple. Most of the ways brand development affects your business are subtle and difficult to quantify since they aren’t obvious. It is impossible to point at an increase in repeat business and say for certain if it is because of more effective brand development or because of any number of other reasons. Although difficult to quantify exactly, ROI of your brand development program are numerous.

Three that you may not think of include:

  • Increased customer loyalty
  • Minimized negative effects of a crisis
  • Better marketing and co-branding partners

Increased Brand Loyalty

One benefit of effective brand development is brand loyalty. These means that your customers are more likely to turn into fans. They are more likely to use your products because they are your products rather than for reasons of cost or effectiveness or even utility. For fans, loyalty is the watchword. Increasing customer loyalty through brand development helps immunize your customers against the marketing efforts of your competitors. If they are using your products because they are your products, the competition doesn’t have a chance.

Minimizing the Effects of Crisis

We’ve all seen the devastation an economic crisis has on business, but there are other types of crisis businesses face every day. Shortages on the manufacturing side (operational problem), licensing problems on a new product line (partner problem), or an employee standing in lettuce (people problem) – there is an infinite number of things that can go wrong in any business. The effects of these things can be minimized by nurturing a mature, trusted brand. Customers are much more inclined to wait patiently while problems are resolved rather than fleeing to your competitors when they believe in your brand. It was the companies with well developed brands and customer loyalty that continue to ride out the worst of the recent economic problems.

Attracting Marketing and Co-Branding Partners

Few things are more attractive to potential marketing partners than a strong, well-developed brand. A solid brand tells prospective partners that you understand your customers and it also demonstrates a certain amount of momentum in your market. By working together, advertisers and co-branders hope to ride that momentum in pushing their products through to your established customer base, and, of course, you hope to do the same for their customers. By bringing as much to the table as possible, you ensure the ability to attract the best marketing partners for your company and have the best possible position sitting at the bargaining table. When it comes to working with other companies, solid branding is a clear advantage.

It may be difficult to say precisely how much of your increased revenue is the result of developing your brand, but it can be measured if you realize the less than obvious benefits. From increased customer loyalty to increased partnership opportunities with other businesses, an effective brand development process does provide returns on your investment.

By Brant Kelsey

We were talking to a group of small agency principals recently. We asked how many knew their largest client’s business strategy. Fewer than five of the fifty or so in attendance raised their hands – we weren’t surprised. It seems that both agencies and clients are equally at fault for this ‘separate camps’ mentality. We agency-types get caught up in the creative execution of assignments to promote sales and our clients don’t often look at us as being valued strategic partners. So the important strategic business stuff never leaves corporate – what a waste!

Here’s why: A company’s business strategy will have a far greater chance of success if it is in alignment with the company’s brand strategy. The really great advertisers get together with their really great agencies and make really great brands. So why can’t the smaller agencies and clients get together? Well, in many cases, the client doesn’t have a plan. Or if it’s a larger advertiser, the CEO, President, COO, CFO, VP of Marketing and a bunch of consultants shut themselves in a room and brainstorm a business strategy. Then they pass it on down to marketing for a plan and execution. What a waste of neuron-power. Most agencies can offer incredible insights, even if only adding marketing wisdom to that plan.

“We agency-types get caught up in the creative execution of assignments to promote sales and our clients don’t often look at us as being valued strategic partners.”

Here’s an example of a terrific business strategy that’s perfectly aligned with a brilliant brand strategy:

Early in its development, the BMW brand held a minuscule share of the European luxury car market and an even smaller share of that audience’s mind. Mercedes Benz out-sold BMW 3 to 1. Mercedes established its foothold on the U.S. market by promoting their “European Engineering.” However, if you talked to a BMW designer, they’d tell you that they had far superior engineering than the Mercedes Benz cars.

They suggested that they designed and built cars with much greater responsiveness to the driver’s actions, providing a better sense of the road beneath and offering them greatly enhanced control. Mercedes, according to BMW, had a smoother ride. The tighter feel and enhanced responsiveness of the BMW gave drivers the sense that he or she was in complete control, and that was something no other brand of automobile offered. This handling advantage was greatly appreciated by sports car aficionados and car enthusiasts. Thus, a business strategy was born. “At Bayerische Motoren Werke, we will build highly engineered automobiles and market them to performance-minded enthusiasts.”

This new strategy would be communicated to all of the company’s employees, strategic partners, suppliers, distributors, customers, sales teams and marketing. And at this point, with (BMW’s long-time agency at the time*) Ammirati & Puris involved in every step of the strategy development, a brand strategy was carefully crafted as well, and aligned for the purpose of advancing an overall corporate message: “BMW, the Ultimate Driving Machine.” And it too was delivered to the same employees, strategic partners, suppliers, distributors and customers.

For three decades, BMW’s business strategy and brand strategy alignment have driven the company to the top of the category. Today, BMW outsells Mercedes Benz 3 to 1.

The answer is – employee satisfaction. Just ask Mark Bertolini, CEO of Aetna. While recovering from a near-death neck injury, Mark learned that recovery is a state of mind. “If your mind is in the right place, you can do anything,” he shared during a CBS news interview. Bertolini found healing in yoga and meditation to deal with the pain of his injury, and that inspired him to bring a new mindset to Aetna.

He pointed out that employee engagement is everything in a service economy, so he reimagined a workplace that could improve the health and mindset of his employees.  His concept includes fair pay, work-life balance, onsite doctors, exam rooms, massage therapists, healthy food options, nutritious Meals To Go, and a fitness center where employees have permission to exercise any time of the day. Aetna also offers yoga classes and virtual classes in mindfulness like Managing Activities to Prevent Burnout all creating a more compassionate workplace.

“Companies should invest time into having a brand that extends beyond their external recognition- Their brand should be deeply rooted internally as well. 

 Aetna invests in its people to get them engaged every day, Mark explained. And, since 60% of Aetna’s operating infrastructure is people, why not invest in them? This type of investment is okay with investors too because it not only affects the bottom line, it impacts the sustainability of the business over time.

As a result of Bertolini’s ideas, Aetna employees reported a 28% decrease in stress levels and 20% improvement in sleep quality. Employees also claim that this employee-focused way of doing business has saved marriages, and even lives. A happier workplace is a more productive workplace, so imagine the effect of 50,000 employees being more productive and inspired. That might explain the steady rise in Aetna’s stock price over the past five years from $29.16 per share (May 2010) to $110.08 per share (May 2015).

Just like all good brands, Aetna is guided by principles that provide clarity and focus:

Integrity – Do the right thing for the right reason.

Excellence – We strive to deliver the highest quality and value possible through simple, easy and relevant solutions.

Caring – We listen to and respect our customers and each other so we can act with insight, understanding and compassion.

Inspiration – We inspire each other to explore ideas that can make the world a better place.

As a Certified Brand Strategist through The Brand Establishment, I help brands identify ways to engage employees so they can embrace the brand as it relates to job function and the greater good. While many organizations have guiding principles, Aetna got it right by aligning its business and brand and making the commitment to help its employees live the brand every day. And that creates one big, happy family!



Michelle Taglialatela is Tag’s brand strategist, one of 35 nationally who is certified by The Brand Establishment.
Michelle applies Tag’s proprietary process to create one-of-a-kind brand strategies that transform cultures and improve the bottom line. Tag has brand depth rivaled by few; and has been working with clients for more than a decade helping them exceed their objectives and stand out!

Brands come to life in a number of ways, but what people most frequently relate to is how brands manifest themselves visually. What is the color palette? Is the logo contemporary, classic or quirky? How does the signage, packaging and décor compliment each other? What is spelled out in the brand guidelines?

As a Certified Brand Strategist and agency member of the Brand Establishment, the first thing we teach our clients is that a brand is not a logo, packaging, or pantone color. The brand is a claim of distinction – it’s who a company is at their core, and what separates them from the competition. A brand promise needs to be defendable in the marketplace, deliverable in a consistent manner, and desirable to the audience.

“It takes more than just graphics to bring a brand to life.”

While brand visuals are extremely important, there additional considerations that will help create a more holistic brand experience. The more subliminal parts of a brand relate to our other senses beyond site – specifically sound and smell. Connecting with your audience through multiple senses can deepen their recall and affinity to your brand.

So, how does your brand sound? How do the jingles or riffs often found in ad campaigns become part of the brand experience equation? It’s a proven fact that sound can actually spur people to act, to buy, to remember. And in a saturated world of marketing, audio plays a crucial and persuasive role in creating brand experiences.

I first noticed audio branding when I was a young professional traveling a lot on business. Our agency flew the “friendly skies” of United whenever it could. I started to become familiar with the Gershwin backdrop of “Rhapsody in Blue” whether I was listening to on-hold music on the phone (back before we booked travel online), waiting to board at the gate, or sitting in the airplane itself. That’s when I realized there was another dimension to consider when building a brand – according to a Marketing Prof’s article, it’s about “the discipline of using unique proprietary sound and music to create a brand’s distinct audio identity, expressing its values at all necessary customer touch points.” And, in today’s digital marketplace, it is easier than ever to deliver sound as part of your brand experience.

The Olfactory System

Now let’s talk about a more elusive sense, your olfactory system. Have you ever considered what your brand smells like? There is big business in creating a scent for retail and hospitality industries – typically delivered to a store or hotel lobby in an atomizing machine through the HVAC. Or sprayed onto objects – like your car’s upholstery for that “new car” smell. According to Brand Sense by Martin Lindstrom, Singapore airlines coordinated its brand scent through their stewardesses perfume, the hot towels they deliver after an overnight flight and permeated throughout their cabins.

There are other ways where the brand scent comes into play though – whether it’s delivered through candles, flowers, fireplaces, linens, brands who add the extra dimension of scent can count on attracting customers, building loyalty, generating more revenue, improving the customer experience, and creating stronger engagement. One such brand is my oft-lauded hospitality brand, the Hotel Valley Ho in Scottsdale, AZ. Their signature scent is Icelandic Moonflower and is custom made for all their toiletries and room sprays. When you walk into your room at the Valley Ho, it is an exclusive experience like no other. They have deep soaking tubs and the body wash, hair products, and lotions all smell wonderful – a scent I look forward to every time I return. (And full disclosure, sometimes a scent I take back with me if I tuck sphere of soap in my bag – for those who have visited the Valley Ho, you know what I’m talking about.)

Ask Yourself

Whether thinking about enhancing your brand experience through sight, sound, smell – or touch and taste for that matter – you must still go through the same process to ensure your brand is defendable in the marketplace, deliverable in a consistent manner, and desirable to your audience. So ask yourself these questions:

What does your brand stand for – what is your claim of distinction?

What is your brand’s personality?

What are people buying? (Different than what you are selling.)

Where is your audience interacting with your brand; what are all the various touch points and what are the various senses that come into play at each touch point?

When you can answer these questions – and align the right sensory touch points to deliver on your brand promise – you can put into place the systems that will truly deliver a multi-sensory brand experience.

To learn more about how you can become a Certified Brand Strategist, click here.

Every company dreams of making a difference in the lives of its customers. An unforgettable company inspires, motivates and connects with its customers. These companies are the brand heroes that dominate the market.

While it takes time to develop an unforgettable brand, these strategies will help you start the process of transforming your company into a beloved brand:

Champion a Cause

While attending a recent meeting of brand certified specialists, I was introduced to LifeProfit founder, Dustin Garis. Our discussion centered about brands that are transforming their marketing messages — better, faster, less cost — to messages about social changes that relate to the brand, with no brand benefits mentioned.

Always menstrual pads, for example, became a brand hero in its #LikeAGirl campaign. Its message centered around changing public perception of the saying ‘you run like a girl.’ Always rallied against the societal stereotype by promoting strong young girls who run fast and hard — the same as boys. As a result, the Always brand has become a hero that stands up for young girls and promotes the strength of women. That’s a great cause to root for!

Innovate Around the Human Experience

This concept revolves around Garis’ passion behind his company, LifeProfit. The human experience is especially important to companies that sell to a younger customer base, given that 72 percent of millennials prefer to spend their money on experiences instead of material objects, according to a 2014 Harris Group study.

An example Garis refers to in his TEDx Talk is how Zappos, a major shoe retailer, tapped into the human experience and became an unforgettable company for him. Garis called the company to inquire about a pair running shoes. Instead of trying to sell him the shoes, the salesperson told him to try them out at a mud run near his town and signed him up for the run. Garis took her up on the offer and in doing so, gained “life profit,” thus experiencing a human moment he will never forget.

Be Memorable

Hearing something 1,000 times is less impactful than experiencing it once. You might recall the recent McDonald®’s ‘Pay with Lovin’ campaign where customers were rewarded with a free meal in exchange for calling a family member and saying ‘I love you.’  Or how Coke®’s new campaign, ‘Share a Coke® and a Song’ personalized its products for consumers by adding famous song lyrics on their bottles this past summer—i.e. “Lean on Me,” and “We are the champions.” Or the Expedia ‘Trip-A-Day Giveaway’ where consumers who downloaded its new app were entered into a sweepstakes drawing to win a trip a day. The company also capitalized on the opportunity to survey participants on their spontaneity as it relates to finding and booking last minute travel.  

The most memorable part of Garis’ message, and one that hits home with us all, is how mundane life becomes if all we do is look forward to the weekend week-in and week-out, spend endless nights watching television and only change our routine a couple of times a year when we take a vacation break. Life profit, as Garis describes it, is not in the number of days you live, but in the number of days you remember. As a business and a brand, we have a unique opportunity to make a memorable and meaningful experience for our customers.


Kelly Borth is CEO and chief strategy officer for GREENCREST, a 25-year-old brand development, strategic and interactive marketing and public relations firm that turns market players into industry leaders™. Kelly is one of 35 certified brand strategists in North America and works with companies to establish brands and build brand value for their businesses. Reach her at 614-885-7921,, @brandpro, or for more information,

Clients often approach us for their tactical touchpoints, otherwise known as “the stuff.” They want websites, marketing collateral, a video or a campaign.  Of course we are happy to fulfill the project needs they have, but they often forget to tell their employees what they are working on.

Case in point: I went to my credit union to test this theory. They had been doing a lot of external consumer advertising for a new program they were unveiling. They sent information in statements, it was promoted on their website, they had signage in the bank and even large pop-up banners in the drive-through to communicate the program. I give them an A+ on the External Communication touchpoints. The only problem… the employees in the bank could not offer one piece of knowledge as to what the program was or how I could get involved. When I asked about the program, the bank teller told me “You’ll probably need to call corporate, they don’t tell us anything!” To which I thought, “Aren’t you, they?” Internal Communication grade = F.

According to the Bernard Hodes Group study regarding “The Growing Power of Employee Brands”, HR is responsible for 51% of your organizations Brand Culture  (see graph below). Yet, the marketing and human resources departments are notorious for not communicating well. Frankly, we just speak different languages, so at times we avoid each other all together.


It’s a tough conversation to have with the rest of your organization, because at times other departments think of it as just marketing “fluff.” Don’t give up though… they will start to live it if you are consistent. There are various degrees of support for change within an organization as it relates to driving the brand/employee relationship:

  • SUPERFICIAL – The “Hearing it” Phase
    • Contact
    • Awareness
  • CONCEPTUAL – The “Believing it” Phase
    • Understanding
    • Acceptance
    • Ready to Defend
  • EMOTIONAL & PERSONAL – The “Living it” Phase
    • Ready to Promote
    • Utilize and Internalize
    • Cultural Experience
    • Passionate Advocacy

As a certified brand strategist, we are taught (and we teach) that it is critically important to think about the internal communication touchpoints and everyone in your company before jumping to the “fun consumer projects.”  Ask yourself, “What can I do to make sure all of my employees understand what our brand stands for and how can I make it easy for them to communicate it to our customers?”  This way you can avoid hearing the word “they” when employees are talking about other co-workers.


Lindsey Hurr is a Principal of Immotion Studios in Fort Worth, Texas. She is also a Certified Brand Strategist and became a member of the The Brand Establishment in February 2010.