branding for humanity: non-profit brand creation and why it is promising for a better future
Mass-marketing in day-to-day life
We are surrounded by mass-marketed brands. Think about the role of brands in your daily life, they are not only on fashion items or technological devices, but also on little things we often do not pay attention to: the soap you wash your hands with, your coffee container, the produce at your local supermarket, your bedroom’s door knob. Society is built on a system of symbols and logos, which reflect value. In the early ages, before what we know as ‘brands’ became a potent element of capitalism, humans put different symbols on the metal coins, gates of the palaces, flags, cave walls… To this day brands create a sense of belonging and separation at the same time. We prefer categorizing items and people according to their look, importance, meaning and culture.
Controversy in branding and marketing
Today branding and its marketing are often criticized. It is commonly argued that the ideal created around logos leads to an unsustainable way of living–fast consumption. While I don’t disagree with that, I believe that to be a very narrow point of view when looking at the huge reality of branding. We cannot overlook the power brands hold! Not only do brands allow corporations to increase their profits, but it enables people to raise their voice to fight for their rights and advocate for a better world. Some significant examples to such brands are the #MeToo movement, the black and white fist used in the #BlackLivesMatter movement, the rainbow, the pink ribbon, the yellow vests… These are all brands that were created to draw attention to issues that matter, around injustice and inequality.
Social media's role
Social media has a profound role in the creation of non-profit brands, since it provides us with a platform to communicate and spread our ideas. Hashtags unite us under topics that matter to us. We can join no matter where we are in the world; and once we unite there is often a symbol created for the cause. Branding gives the movements an identity, a tangible goal, a logo like-minded people can use and follow. And more importantly, it makes the conversation accessible to everyone. Such brands are evidence of how non-profit brand creation and their organic marketing has the power of bringing about change. Debbie Millman made a very correct point when she said “Branding is the profound manifestation of the human spirit.” Her TEDWomen 2019 speech inspired me into thinking that branding is not a mere “tool of capitalism”. The power of brands cannot be ignored in the world of activism. The symbolization of movements and protests through branding will enable us to manifest the change we want to see, and the better future we wish for.