by: Jennifer Rice

In the next few posts I'm going to play around with the idea of a worthwhile brand. I like this term because a) it's not overused, b) it implies important, valuable and rewarding.

Along these lines, the manager of a worthwhile brand would answer "yes" to at least one of the following questions:

Will this product/service/company...
- measurably improve quality of life?
- make the world a better place?
- leave no trace on the Earth?

And you can't weasel out of the first one with marketing-speak. "Our customers' lives will be improved by yet another brand of toothpaste because they have been long-deprived of grape flavoring." Sorry, that doesn't cut it. However, if part of the proceeds from the new grape-flavored toothpaste goes to provide dental care for underpriviledged children, you've introduced a worthwhile purpose into the brand.  Not every product is going to change the world, but brands like Starbucks are, at the very least, "walking softly on the earth." Starbucks' recycled-content cups are expected to lower the company's dependence on tree fiber annually by more than five million pounds. The Gap's RED line is contributing 50% of proceeds to fight AIDS in Africa.

Let's all expect more from the businesses from which we buy, and expect more of the companies where we work.  Marketers and executives: how can you can make your brands more worthwhile? Even from a pure business perspective, it's worth thinking about. As Hugh says, "the market for something to believe in is infinite."

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