When the mechanics of business replaces heart.
Ok, so the Tin Man wasn’t supposed to have a heart because he’s a machine, right? And yet it was the heart he wanted, and most likely needed.
Brands and businesses operate most often on a tin man platform – the operating mechanics of product development, production and sale always occupying first chair in priorities and effort. While matters of the heart seldom get much play.
The Tin Man is a woodcutter, so what does heart have to do with anything? Does it make him a better woodcutter?
Thus begins the great lesson of commerce in 2016.
In a great sea of sameness and marketing noise, how can an emerging food or beverage business stand out?
Here’s the first bit of critical direction: the brand that gets closest to the customer wins. And second: the road to a customer relationship and engagement is paved with deeper meaning, relevance and purpose.
It’s not enough to make a great product.
It’s not enough to look good or taste good.
It’s not enough to secure distribution.
It’s not enough to be made with simple, real and authentic ingredients.
It’s not enough to participate in social communities.
It’s not enough to gain attention in earned media.
The relationships people have with the brands they care about look increasingly like the kind they have with friends and loved ones. Conditions of trust, reciprocity, genuine caring and higher purpose come into play.
Yes, you have to have a heart – and a business soul, too. Heart does not mean philanthropy although it can be an expression. Heart means the business doesn’t look at its customers as walking transactions. Nor focuses solely on what it makes and sells. Rather the brand is an enabler and supporter of relevant customer lifestyle aspirations and needs. A true source of inspiration; a guide and teacher, a provider of resources and experiences – this constitutes heart.
The Tin Man lesson is clear – when you want a heart for the right reasons, you can get one. Emergent is in the brand heart and soul business, helping identify, refine and activate that purpose – and mine everything that comes after it to push that greater meaning onto the company’s operational shirtsleeve.
What does it yield? Ironically it leads to transactions.
Bob Wheatley is the CEO of Chicago-based Emergent Healthy Living. Emergent provides integrated brand strategy, communications and insight solutions to national food, beverage, home and lifestyle companies. Emergent’s unique and proprietary transformation and growth focus helps organizations navigate, engage and leverage consumers’ desire for higher quality, healthier product or service experiences that mirror their desire for higher quality lifestyles. For more information, contact Bob@Emergent-Comm.com and follow on Twitter @BobWheatley.