A brand isn’t what a brand says; a brand is what a brand does

picture-3It goes without saying that a brand’s behavior carries more meaning and influence than the words it speaks or puts in its advertising.  This is especially true when it comes to cause marketing.  Too many brands simply jump on the bandwagon for a cause that they think might win points with consumers.  Just think about how many times you’ve seen the word green in an ad campaign.

So you might be impressed with a company called Dancing Deer Bakery. In support of the bakery’s favorite cause – ending homelessness — Head Deer Trish Karter recently cycled 1500 miles in 15 days, from Atlanta to Boston, stopping at shelters each evening, bearing gifts of ginger bread houses and icing, visiting with families less fortunate than herself, then sleeping at the shelter or in an RV in the parking lot before riding another 100 miles the next day.

Unlike many corporate programs, designed to call attention to the company rather than the cause, Trish’s effort – six hours a day on a bike, enduring rain, wind and exhaustion — felt authentic.

Dancing Deer believes in direct action programs that help homeless families establish more stable lives that can lead to homes of their own. So the company gives 35 percent of the retail price of its Sweet Home line of baked goods directly to scholarships as a pathway out of poverty to economic self-sufficiency.  The program works so well that according to Dancing Deer “not one of the mothers who has completed the program has returned to a shelter.”

The ride itself demonstrated direct action.  Not only did it present powerful proof of the company’s commitment, it offered a way for supporters to get involved, along with a platform for generating press coverage for both the bakery and its mission.  It also served as a reminder to brands everywhere that living what you stand for is a lot more compelling than talking about it.

You can find much more detail about Dancing Deer, the ride, and the company’s philanthropy on its site.  Perhaps it will give you some ideas for your brand or clients.

What are you doing to prove your beliefs?  It’s easy to run an ad, lend your name to a cause, or write a check.  But no doubt consumers will notice, and perhaps remember, the difference between brands that attempt to buy goodwill and those that contribute time, energy and perspiration.  What inspirational corporate acts have you seen recently?  Do you work for, or buy from, a company that makes action part of its mission?

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Stuart Foster
Stuart Foster

"90 percent of life is just showing up" ~ Woody Allen

You can take that statement one of two ways. Coast through life with as little effort put forward as possible while still maintaining a facade of commitment. Or you can actually put the time in on the ground and earn that extra 10%.

Looks like Trish Karter is a 10%er.

Stuart Foster’s last blog post..The Spotted Zebra

Leo Bottary
Leo Bottary

I believe it's powerful because it not only underscores what they do, but more importantly, it illustrates who they are. Thanks for sharing and for introducing me to a new enterprise.

Leo Bottary’s last blog post..Focus On Commmunicating


  1. […] We would all be better off if business heeds some of We First’s recommendations and examples. And there are plenty of the latter for inspiration, as Mainwaring gives kudos to the usual suspects – Whole Foods, Starbucks – along with giants trying to do good (Pepsi) and smaller firms who have social responsibility built into their DNA (Dancing Deer Bakery.) […]