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Generosity of brands

In a way this is a follow up on my last blog on the subject of what kind of content is typically shared, by my friends and those who I follow.

But today this was sparked off by a series of unrelated stuff, but around a common theme.


Apparently the French parliament has passed a law allowing employees to donate their leave to a colleague with a seriously ill child. How amazing is that. You have something the other person needs and you give it with no expectation of anything in return. Just the hope that one day should you need it, others will come to your aid.

Then this morning I read about this book Image ‘Congratulations by the way’ by George Saunders.

Saunders says that the greatest gift we can give each other, is the gift of kindness. There’s a tale about a girl in his school, 40 years ago, who no one really liked and people made fun of. He himself was not unkind but wasn’t overly friendly either. He wished he was nicer.

In our life we remember people who are nice to us. Those who show compassion in an ocean of impersonality. We all want to be like them, but it is hard. Our own prejudices, pre occupations and egos come in the way.

I am really lucky to have a large number of people in my life who are generous with their time, advice, affection and just kindness. And to balance it out I do have a fair number of the self obsessed, win at all costs, will let you down type of people as well.

I mention this because if we, as marketers, are trying to build relationships with consumers and believe brands are like living organisms then shouldn’t this much cherished value of generosity be present in brands as well?

Many corporations have Corporate Social Responsibility programs which is their way of giving back to society. While I don’t decry that a teenie bit, it smells a bit of schizophrenia to me. Especially, if it is run as a whole separate operation from the brand organisation.

What if brands were generous with something. Wearing my communications hat on..I would say be generous with content.

Share content that will help your consumers get bigger, better, stronger, healthier, wiser..whatever it is that is at the centre of the brand. Share selflessly. Let consumers see that every contact is not a business transaction.

I understand that new content is hard to come by. Share existing content. Or repackage relevant content. After all how many articles have we all read about losing weight, productivity, managing email, being happy and so on. Yet there’s more and more being generated in this space as consumers seemingly like them.

This, to my mind does two things.

1. It builds a trusted relationship between brand and consumer. The brand becomes a trusted advisor. With the growth of social media the opportunity to build interactions based on this content becomes possible thereby strengthening, and even measuring, the relationship.

2. It generates a ripple effect in the consumer’s life. If she finds it useful and relevant, she will share it with her friends. And there’s no greater credibility than ‘word of mouth’ As the story spreads, so will that of the brand that shared the content in the first place.

If brands can be generous, like we expect humans to, i believe we will value and cherish them as much as we do our family and dear friends.

And it really costs nothing to be generous, does it?


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