Imagine that you are visiting the desert. You have come to this hot and dry place to spend some time in nature, let your mind become centered, and hopefully obtain some clarity about how to market your good cause.

On the horizon, a shimmering apparition appears in the mid-day heat. As the form walks confidently in your direction you begin to see that he is scruffy and rough appearance. He stops, lowers his head and slowly lights the end of a stubby cigar. His steely eyes glare at you from underneath the hat’s rim. You know him from the movies, he is the Man with No Name!

He spits on the ground.

It must the heat or the lack of water, for you know this is not a real man, but a movie character, right? A shiver runs down your spine and your heart pumps faster then you begin to shake at the knees. Are you scared or excited? A gnawing sensation in your gut wants you to run like a deer while another part of you wants his autograph. You shouldn’t be afraid since he is a good guy …sort of.

What makes him such an emotional force? You have to know, your inner marketer suddenly takes over and you stand your ground. You quickly study him, and make a mental list of his tangible and intangible qualities:

Tangibles Intangibles
  • his no-name name
  • cold gaze
  • cigar stub
  • ragged poncho
  • pistol
  • dirty
  • independence
  • doggedness
  • scary-as-hell
  • underdog
  • hero

It takes all of these things to make the Man with No Name brand successful.

He looks at you from under the brim of his brown hat and says in a dusty voice,

“My brand isn’t about finding gold, or shootin’ bad guys, it’s about the intangibles! That’s my true self – that is the true treasure of my brand. Everyone looks badass out here in the West; badass is a commodity, the intangibles are the true product.”

That gets you to thinking… too often marketers of good causes only focus on the tangibles (the physical aspects) of their brand: the logo, design, layout, images, signage, content, the website etc.

Once again the Marketer with No Name speaks, “The brands that survive in this harsh world are the ones that people can relate to both in their mind and heart.”

A rattlesnake slides nearby. He spits again hitting it squarely on the head, the snake retreats.

You think about what he said. Marketers do often overlook the true product which is the message that people should take home in their hearts.

He chews on the stub of his cigar then turns away. The wind blows around him making his ends of his grubby poncho wave erratically. He walks to the horizon and soon becomes an unrecognizable form, then his image disappears among the shimmering waves of rising heat.

You think you understand…sometimes marketers of good causes focus only on the brand’s appearance: a logo, colors, typefaces, business cards, web site, or flyers; but, a brand is not just these physical things, a brand must include consistent products and services such as a positive attitude, behavior, enthusiasm, quality of product selection, and engaging programs. All of these things together reinforce the entire brand.

It is time to leave. As you return to your good cause, you think about how to weave together the tangible and intangible elements so your messaging will be memorable. This is how a brand survives and thrives within a harsh world.

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