Brands that stand for more than just their products have a huge advantage in this era of increasing transparency. It’s not enough to have the best product at the most popular price any more, and excellent customer service is only the beginning.

Now, more than ever, people realize that they can vote with their money. They know the world they live in is a direct result of the purchases they have made so far, and that they can help change it or protect it by buying the brands they believe in. So what are they voting for when they purchase your brand? Your customers are now considering these hot issues:

Integrity and Dependability. Customers want to know you are committed to providing quality products that will last. Your third-party endorsements will validate your claims. When your customers know they can depend on your product’s quality, it becomes an essential part of their lives. If you want their loyalty, your product must be high quality and reasonably priced.

The Environment. Since you are selling to citizens of the Earth, you should be committed to the planet’s health and restoration. You can demonstrate this with sustainable production practices, by making your packaging recyclable, and by investing in low-carbon footprint energy resources. You can also demonstrate your commitment to the planet by the environmental causes you support.

Human Rights. When you support equal rights, you show that you are all-inclusive. You’ll win the loyalty of important groups, including many minority groups who have yet to win equal rights, and who are looking for people and brands that treat them fairly. The sources of your supplies, the composition of your products, the causes you support, and your treatment of the people you employ all reflect heavily on how your product is perceived by your customers today.

The Next Generation. Address the needs today of those who will buy your product in 10-20 years. If your company promotes health, education, and safety for young people today, you will help create customers of tomorrow. Your buyers with children will also appreciate your effort to help their children and they will pay you back with loyalty and support.

Labor Practices. As a good employer, you should view your staff not merely as a commodity, but as a valuable asset. When you improve their working conditions, health, and welfare, your customers will see that and it will affect their buying decisions.

Enthusiasm and Commitment. When your staff understands that your goal is to make the world a better place, they will be excited to be associated with your brand. They will proudly communicate this to other people, too, and continually do their best for your company.

Socially conscious marketing is not a just an option on the fringe anymore. It has become mainstream. Besides, it’s just good business. Find the causes that resonate with you and your brand. Help those causes get their message out to your customers. Support their events. In return, they and their followers will support you.

We will discuss what we named “worthy cause marketing” in more detail in a later post. That is not only an efficient form of advertising, it is also an essential part of improving our planet through business. This and the steps above are how you give your brand a soul.

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Who We Are

Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey Barefoot Wine Founders

Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey co-authored the New York Times bestselling business book, The Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle, and Heart Built America’s #1 Wine Brand. The book has been selected as recommended reading in the CEO Library for CEO Forum, the C-Suite Book Club, and numerous university classes on business and entrepreneurship. It chronicles their humble beginnings from the laundry room of a rented Sonoma County farmhouse to the board room of E&J Gallo, who ultimately acquired their brand and engaged them as brand consultants. Barefoot is now the world’s largest wine brand.

Beginning with virtually no money and no wine industry experience, they employed innovative ideas to overcome obstacles, create new markets and forge strategic alliances. They pioneered Worthy Cause Marketing and performance-based compensation. They built an internationally bestselling brand and received their industry’s “Hot Brand” award for several consecutive years.

They offer their Guiding Principles for Success (GPS) to help entrepreneurs become successful. Their book, The Entrepreneurial Culture: 23 Ways To Engage and Empower Your People, helps corporations maximize the value of their human resources.

Currently they travel the world leading workshops, trainings, & keynoting at business schools, corporations, conferences. They are regular media guests and contributors to international publications and professional journals. They are C-Suite Network Advisors & Contributing Editors. Visit their popular brand building site at

To make inquiries for keynote speaking, trainings or consulting, please contact