Mindfulness is a mantra these days. Everyone is talking about it and a lot of companies and businesses are encouraging their employees to embrace mindfulness in their lives so they become better versions of themselves and perform better at their jobs.
I was introduced to mindfulness by Thich Nah Than, a Zen Master, and Buddhist monk over 5 years ago. Since then, I have tried to practice mindfulness and meditation to improve myself and the quality of my life. The results have been spectacular.
So, what has mindfulness got to do with branding?
I say this in most of my articles, but it is true that the marketplace has become very noisy. Brands are being created left, right, and center. Brands are churning out content and marketing material relentlessly.
What is the result of all this marketing activity?
An overwhelming backlash from consumers who are being put off by the noisy content overload. The return on investment on brand marketing is becoming smaller and smaller day by day.
So what should a brand do, to connect with their target audience in a meaningful way, create an impact and build the right kind of relationships?
The answer lies in mindfulness.
At the core, mindfulness is about the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something. Wikipedia defines mindfulness as “a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.”
How does this apply to branding and building brands?
Most often than not, brand builders are not really aware of their intentions with their branding. The focus seems to usually lie in generating sales and revenue. While that is not a bad focus to have, it is not the right focus to build a successful brand.
The right focus is to become aware of what the brand really means – both for the people within the brand and the people whom the brand is seeking to attract.
The first step in trying to build a mindful brand is to look inwards. Sit down and dig deep into the soul of your brand to understand what it stands for or what it ought to stand for. A brand that stands for nothing will hardly have long-term success.
Standing for something is otherwise known as having brand core values that stand as the guiding principles of how the brand would behave consistently in all situations. These are values that your brand stands by even in the toughest of situations and not swayed by temporary challenges or setbacks.
Coca-Cola is a great example of a company that practices mindful branding through a robust set of core values. Here are some of their core values.
Leadership: The courage to shape a better future – Coca-Cola has always had a forward-thinking outlook on their business and the industry.
Collaboration: Leverage collective genius – Coca-Cola rose to power through the power of collaboration and partnership.
Integrity: Be real – While this core value can be contested, they do keep it real and use that as a rallying cry.
Accountability: If it is to be, it’s up to me – Another core value that many may not tend to agree with but when issues arose, Coca-Cola always tried to be accountable.
Passion: Committed in heart and mind – This is a big one and Coca-Cola shows passion in their brand image, their consistent logo design, their brand colors, their packaging and unique bottle design, their advertising themes and more.
What about your brand? What core values does it have that form the foundation of what the brand stands for?
Create Impact On This World
Creating an impact on this world – a positive one – has to be one of the most important tenets of a mindful brand. Consider how your brand creates impact. Question your brand’s motives and do not be afraid to understand and accept the fact that your product or service may not necessarily have a positive impact on this world.
If that is the case, then accepting the fact is a great start. Then try and figure out what you can do to mitigate the negative impact as much as you can.
A great example of a brand that started out having a negative impact on this world but tries very hard to mitigate that impact. Nike CEO Mark Parker likes to ask his team a single question: “Can we double our business while halving our environmental impact?”. Recently, Nike disclosed that 71% of its products use “Nike Grind,” that is made of recycled polyester and other materials. Grind has also been incorporated in over 1 billion square feet of sports surfaces such as running tracks, playgrounds, and football fields replacing surface materials like virgin rubber. (Source)
A mindful brand and its stakeholders should look at every player in the market eco-system as partners. To do that, a sense of non-attachment must be practiced when creating brand strategies. The world is changing and the belief that business is war is getting outdated. It is that belief that causes the misery of the financial crises, reckless spending, bankruptcies and more.
Business is going to be about harmony. It is about partnership and collaboration.
Example: Podcast Collaborations
After podcasting started in 2004, the first 10 years brought about a lot of podcasting celebrities and influencers who were very competitive and marketed their brands with fierce campaigns. But things started changing and slowly but surely the collaboration bug took hold and these days, you find most podcast influencers collaborate with one another – by featuring on each other shows, recommending competing shows and more. The same trend can be seen on Youtube.
Care About Your Customers
A huge step towards building a mindful brand is to genuinely care about your customers. Although this may sound like an obvious thing that brands should do, you would be surprised how few companies actually really care about their customers. In fact, a lot of brands actually treat their customers with contempt.
I am not talking about customer service, which although is a very important pillar cannot be considered in this context. I am talking about caring about your customers. A lot of smaller businesses fall into the trap of not caring about their customers because of the natural burdens and challenges of running a business in this competitive world. It is very natural for a business owner to dislike their customers if they start haggling over price or complaining about quality etc. Bigger brands would have the resources to handle such challenges and hence have the margin to care.
But if you exercise the habit of routinely taking a moment to remember who your customer is – someone who puts food on your table and enables you to live a good life and take care of your loved ones – then you can start caring about them. Over time, this would become second nature and you then transform your brand into a mindful brand and in the process build customer loyalty.
Disney is a great example of a brand that genuinely cares about its customers. With a beautiful tagline like “Creating happiness through magical experiences”, Disney is dedicated to making sure its customers are happy when visiting its parks by going out of the way to reduce lines for rides, using technology to make customers enjoy themselves more – even when it is not expected and more. They do really take their brand promise seriously and strive hard to make their customers happy.
What are the key takeaways from this article?
Strive to build a mindful brand. Look inwards to figure out what your brand stands for. Make sure your brand creates a positive impact on this world. Be detached when conducting business. Genuinely care about your customers and love them. If you can transform your brand into a mindful brand, you will differentiate yourself in the minds of your customers and this will lead to success.