This month, I was inspired by three mission-led brands using technology in great ways. Take a look:
When National Geographic posted an opening a couple of years ago, I researched this brand out of curiosity. My outdated perceptions were quickly corrected by the inspiring freshness of NatGeo’s brand. It has readily embraced digital content and now leads in this space with some of the best video content around. NatGeo is known for its award-winning photography; remember the blue-eyed Afghan girl by Steve McCurry? Video is now what photography used to be for NatGeo. A recent documentary captured how they spent days figuring out how to photograph a 1,500-year-old, 300 foot Redwood tree for a magazine fold-out. They did it by stitching together 84 still shots. With video technology, NatGeo continues to use the best journalists, camera experts and scientists to produce top quality content. Now they’re showing us how to use digital and social media platforms for their mission “to inspire, to illuminate, to teach and to change the world”.
Watch this two-minute overview video>
2. WORLD VISION
About 12 years ago, I signed up to sponsor a 2-year-old girl in Lesotho, a beautiful mountainous country in Africa. I found Refi using World Vision’s custom website technology that personalized the experience for me. I picked a date (my late dad’s birthday) and the southern African region (my birthplace is South Africa). For that past 12 years and a monthly $25, I have received hand-written progress reports on Refi, a letter from her mom (translated by World Vision staff), and Refi’s simple pencil drawings. Over the years, her stick figures of people developed fingers, feet, hair and now clothes and homes. One thing that has remained is Refi’s love for large semi-circle ears, her artistic signature (picture attached). In exchange for the pleasure of watching Refi develop, I’m able to send her the occasional birthday or Christmas card which World Vision creates and sends outs for me. A few times, I received photos of Refi with the odd gift I’d sent her. That’s how I learned she is into soccer and sneakers and not Frozen purses.
World Vision just recently set up an even easier way for me to communicate with Refi. I go to my account on their website that has an email set up for her. I attach recent photos of me and my family and that’s it! World Vision delivers and prints my emails at their Lesotho facility. It’s then delivered to Refi’s village school. For twelve years, I have seen World Vision remain child-focused and consistent in its mission of a life of fullness. They make it easy for us “busy” Americans to get so much from a loving child and her community. For non-profits, this brand holds a gold standard for using simple technology to make human connections.
I first encountered this brand in 2013 at an American National Advertisers conference in Florida. BuzzFeed was just emerging and sponsored the pre-conference slot. I attended this 7.30am pitch by a brand that today would command the top slot at any marketers’ conference. I remember being blown away and gathered up the cheesy but memorable emoticon stickers under my coffee cup. Today this global news feed has a 6 billion monthly view number (half of which are video). It has a 200 million unique monthly number. I like BuzzFeed because they’ve figured out how to generate open-sourced content AND manage its quality through content user popularity. In essence, they are leaders in democratizing content.
In a recent Fast Company article, their CMO, Frank Cooper, encourages brands to try on tone differently and to be more reiterative around themes. This is something that challenges conventional brand ad programming and process. I’d watch this company to learn how to design brand content strategically and flexibly.
What brands are you’re loving now?
Disclaimer: This is our own (positive) opinion and does not necessarily reflect those of the brands mentioned.
@smunthree | The Union Marketing Group | www.theunionmarketing.com
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