Photo Courtesy: NBC News
He’s the 39th President of the United States, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, former Governor, humanitarian, author, activist and peanut farmer. At every step along the way, he’s also been a thoughtful voice of decency and a leader. He’s a man whose vision and voice have earned him a worldwide audience. Jimmy Carter deserves to be heard.
Think about it. He’s 91. This guy has been working for almost three decades AFTER what most people consider retirement age. He’s committed to the work of The Carter Center, established at Emory University “to fight disease, hunger, poverty, conflict, and oppression around the world.” Lofty goals, to say the least.
Just two months ago, Carter announced in a press conference that doctors had found melanoma on his brain and he would undergo radiation treatment. Yes, he has brain cancer. Still, he continues to move forward on the causes that matter most to him. Next month, he’ll join Habitat for Humanity on a week-long trip to Katmandu, Nepal as a volunteer. The man has BRAIN cancer, and he’s still volunteering to help build homes on the other side of the planet. Even if he were NOT a former President, that would be remarkable.
Here’s the point – he has EARNED the right to be heard. On human rights, politics, peace, philanthropy and now, on the topic of cancer. He’s not just messaging, he’s living the message.
Have you earned the right to be heard? Has your brand? If so, in what arena?
Of course, I’m not claiming that any of us regular folk have the towering stature of Jimmy Carter.
But know this: The Era of False, Fake and Groundless Pontificating is Over. Get real or get lost.
A brand can no longer CLAIM to be honest, clear, nutritional, simple-to-operate, organic or philanthropic if the facts don’t back up the assertion. Our world is simply too connected, too open, too obvious for anyone to hide. If you’re claiming to use fair-trade coffee beans, you’d better make damn sure to confirm it, because your customers will.
Instead, great brands evolve into a position of ‘remarkable-ness’ and then let the results speak for themselves. Or, brand managers use that new or improved identity as a perch from which to present a new message. Or, they let external brand ambassadors do the talking. In short, your words have no weight if your actions don’t precede them. “BE the change,” as Mahatma Gandhi is known to have said.
Another quotable luminary, Seth Godin, has made a similar observation for marketers everywhere with his “Purple Cow” metaphor.
The concept, according to Godin, is to transform your business by being remarkable.
Sounds simple and obvious, but so few brands do it effectively. Here’s a classic Godin blog post with a step-by-step explanation.
So the question becomes, how can YOUR brand be remarkable? And more importantly, remarkable in a way that matters to your ideal customers?
- If it’s a grocery store, why not put the milk up front?
- If it’s a car repair center, why not offer free car washes and loaners?
- If it’s a hospital, why not re-design the interior to be more like a resort?
- If it’s a pizza shop, why not allow customers to text in an order?
(Sure, some of these advances are already in place – but it might still be remarkable in your neighborhood, or for your customers!)
For the TRULY disruptive concepts, check out some of the products presented at this year’s CES show in Vegas:
- Gorilla Glass— it has antimicrobial protection built in
- Kilobree— a “smart” toothbrush that knows how long you brushed and what teeth you missed
- PulseWallet, or BiYo–– a biometric palm-scan technology that allows a user to buy with no card, no wallet and no risk of ID theft.
The list of possibilities is long if you’ll take off the pre-conceived limits and ask yourself what would truly make a difference? How can we be innovative and solve the problem that our customer, or community, is facing?
How can we be more remarkable, like Jimmy Carter? Now that’s how you earn the right to be heard.