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Social impact thrives when we can effect change for the better and for all. But despite the lofty values that guide us, that impact can’t be felt if the world doesn’t know we exist, if they can’t reach us or associate the values they hold dear with our own. This is where social impact finds common ground with for-profit giants and entrepreneurs…in the arena of branding.

“Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room. It’s predictability and consistency.”

– Lindsey Michelle, Photographer

We understand that branding is how we communicate and give the world a sense of our identity, but for those looking to make social impact, the path to connecting corporate activism to public awareness can be challenging.  The answer may lie in capitalizing on the human factor. Humans need trust in order to do business; your goal as an organization is to build a brand by building trust. As one panelist, photographer Lindsey Michelle, noted, “Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room. It’s predictability and consistency.”

Hubber Alec Lai, CEO of  Zephyr’s Business Services brought together a panel of creatives who took the stage to share best practices on how startups can corner the market and still maintain values that matter.  As one panelist pointed out, “Behind every business is more people.” Startups and non-profits can humanize touch points by using stories to connect, educate, create and inspire. But how does one curate that tangible path for customers to embark upon and arrive at that specific feeling a company is trying to generate?  Does a startup just need to tell a story?  Here are a few points the panel left us with:

  1. Branding is not just a logo. Figure out what your message is and how you can translate that across the board.
  2. Become self-aware.  Take the time to know who you are as a company or a catalyst of change.  You can’t be sustainable otherwise.  
  3. Branding, by definition, makes you like everyone else. Going over and above the norm is what makes you different. 
  4. User experience matters. Whether your customers call in or use your app, the ease of going from inquiry to product/service attainment is important, even if your marketing isn’t polished.  
  5. “Feed and foster through educational content,” says panelist Taryn Gilligan, a painter by trade. It’s not enough to win attention; you need to foster strong relationships from the moment a prospect engages with your brand. Creating content that brings value to the relationship, rather than simply aiming to win donations or sales, is another critical way to build trust-based relationships.

“Feed and foster through educational content.” – Taryn Gilligan, Abstract Painter


Lasting and meaningful impact demands organic content that connects authentically with the individual.  This can be accomplished when businesses have the courage to believe in themselves and focus on doing just one thing right and not worry about doing everything wrong.