Retail Observer

April 2019

The Retail Observer is an industry leading magazine for INDEPENDENT RETAILERS in Major Appliances, Consumer Electronics and Home Furnishings

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Page 46 of 67

APRIL 2019 RETAILOBSERVER.COM 47 The world's greatest brands – Apple, Google, Amazon, Facebook – have succeeded not because of what they sell, but because of their beliefs. These companies stand out as unique because their beliefs are unique. They create extraordinary experiences because they have an extraordinary mindset. They stand alone because they stand on what they alone among many other companies believe. And big brands don't hold a corner on this market benefit. Any brand can excel by exceptional beliefs and actions. We can't see your way to success — Mythologist Joseph Campbell said, "If you can see the path ahead of you, clearly laid out, you're on someone else's path." This is true alike for innovative people and for brands. The world's adventurers, theorists and believers are also the world's risk-takers. During multiple hurricanes in 2017, several Caribbean Islands including Puerto Rico as well as U.S. cities were torn apart. At the time, I found emails in my daily inbox asking for donations – the usual response to such devastation. And then – Tesla steps in — Elon Musk said that he could rebuild Puerto Rico's devastated electrical grid by applying Tesla's existing solar energy or battery storage technology. In an October 5th tweet, Musk took a big risk, saying, "The Tesla team has done this for many smaller islands around the world, but there is no scalability limit, so it can be done for Puerto Rico too." Ricardo Rossello, Governor of Puerto Rico, quickly responded: "Let's talk." Elon Musk was thinking different, doing different, and taking risks. The most adventurous people and brands don't just talk, they do. They inspire, challenge and move us. They get in our face and invite new conversations. They're unafraid to ask audacious questions, and along the way they change the way we all think. "I'll believe it when I see it," is the skeptic's sourpuss mantra. More accurate is the believer's mindset: "I'll see it when I believe it." Skeptics don't imagine or think like Elon Musk. We humans only change our behaviors after we've changed our mindset first. Ask yourself these questions: • Are we standing on what we sell – OR on our beliefs? In complex times, what we need more than ever is simplicity. People will follow what they understand and believe – this is equally true for our customers and employees. By communicating what you stand for, you're giving your people something to believe in, trust in, and admire you for, especially when your behaviors are truly aligned with your beliefs. When you do this, your customers and employees will reward you with their loyalty. • Are we creating ads OR stories? Your brand doesn't have to be as high-profile as Elon Musk or Tesla to create brand stories in action. You just need to be committed to something bigger than sales. Your brand should be looking for opportunities to insert itself into public conversations. Show your value by having valuable conversations with the world. • Are we telling people what to think OR giving them something to think about? Knowing what you believe creates the courage to take a stand on something. Don't be afraid to take a stand, and don't try to please everybody. You can't confuse people into buying your product with jargon or complex ideas – that's because they won't start buying in large numbers until you've engaged their emotions. People want connections. People want innovation. People want to be inspired. They don't want brands that talk at them, they want something to talk about and think about and feel. If you want to start a movement, you need to begin by starting meaningful conversations. • What problems are we solving in the world, AND are they the right ones? Even the smallest companies should offer some clear benefit to people and help them solve their problems. That's why you're in business. "What's wrong, and how can we fix it?" is one of the most potent questions for any business. Whether you sell clothing, cars, solar panels, or software, you can and should have a message that matters. So, what does your brand believe? Have you captured it, harnessed it and put power behind it? RO For the past 25 years, Steve has served as an advisor and consultant on brand strategy, organizational life, and humanized marketing strategy. He has worked with companies such as Samsung, Habitat for Humanity, New Balance, Sony, LG, Amazon, NFL and MLB franchises and is a regular speaker for TEDx, Creative Mornings, CES, HOW Conference, Social Venture Network, American Marketing Association, and AIGA conferences. Steve has published two books, Brand Love and Loyalty and Humanizing the Customer Journey, as well as a forthcoming book, The Evolved Brand: How to Impact the World Through the Power of Your Brand. He has been featured in Business Week, Brand Week, Ad Age, Conscious Company Magazine, MarketingProfs, and HOW magazines. Steve leads his own brand and business strategic consultancy, Mth Degree. Contact:, 619-234-1211 or

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