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Enlightened Brands

A million and one brands are tweeting, instagramming and periscoping their HUMAN side. In pursuit of a HUMAN side, most brands took a shortcut: a chirpy brand voice that covered them in a patina of humanity and allowed them to pay lip service to those virtues.

But brands that want to assure their survival will start on the hard path towards true ENLIGHTENMENT, by taking meaningful action to improve both individual lives and the wider world.

Coined by Trendwatching, Enlighteneed Brands are:

· RESTLESS: That means they're forever in search of new ways to make the world a better place, and to hold themselves to higher standards of fairness and responsibility.

· EMPATHETIC: That means understanding and addressing customer pain points and working to make individual lives easier, faster, and more fun.

· DEMANDING: Making individual lives better can also mean pushing consumers to overcome their human flaws, and become the people they want to be.

· The truth is that in 2015, few brands are anywhere near true ENLIGHTENMENT. Most are deeply mired in eco, social and service sin. But any business can learn from the major brands that are taking their first steps, and the startups introducing the kind of ENLIGHTENED innovations that all brands should be working on!

Why brands must evolve to a higher state of consciousness?

Now, customer expectations have raced onwards (they do that). People are looking to brands to evolve to a higher state of consciousness by taking real, meaningful, even painful, action to make their lives – and the world we share – better. It's the difference between being HUMAN and being ENLIGHTENED.

The irony here? Many customers are far from saintly themselves! After all, they co-created this planet warming, sugar rushing, socially damaging mess we're in, right along with brands. And now, they're looking for brands to embrace ENLIGHTENMENT for them.

Additional Info

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    Examples provided by Trendwatching:

    Vodafone, Telecoms company announces worldwide maternity pay guarantee

    One powerful way for big brands to move closer to ENLIGHTENMENT? Let change start from the inside by creating a fairer, more equal or simply more fun, internal culture. In March 2015, Vodafone announced that it would implement a worldwide minimum level of maternity pay. All female staff will be entitled to 16 weeks of maternity leave on full pay, plus full pay for a 30-hour week for the first six months after their return to work. Vodafone claims the move will help staff who work in countries with little or no legal provision for maternity pay. The telecoms company employs around 100,000 people in 30 countries.

    Diario ABC Color, Paraguayan newspaper launches free journalism school

    ENLIGHTENMENT can mean empowering customers to realize their dreams of doing good in the world. In March 2015, Paraguayan newspaper Diario ABC Color launched two educational courses aimed at introducing the next generation to journalism. The free courses are held every Saturday, and students learn how to write news and opinion pieces and conduct interviews. Participating children also contribute to the Young Journalism newspaper, and radio channel Habemus Mess.

    Grand Hyatt Melbourne, Regular visitors allowed to leave belongings at hotel between stays

    Finding one small way to make life more convenient for customers is one small step towards ENLIGHTENMENT. In November 2014, Melbourne's Grand Hyatt hotel launched the Leave it at Hyatt scheme, giving regular travelers the option of leaving items at the establishment between visits. Within the limits of available space, there are no restrictions on what can be left, and the hotel also offers to launder any garments (at the regular rate). Similar programs have since launched at Grand Hyatt properties globally.

    Idea Bank, Bank opens co-working space and café for entrepreneurs

    Finding new ways for customers to make constructive use of infrastructure is good for society and the planet. Opened in Warsaw during February 2015, Idea Bank's city center branch is styled as a café and staffed by baristas. The retail bank's coffee shop and workspace was opened to attract small business owners away from local cafés, offering free beverages, offices and bookable meeting rooms. The space also gives entrepreneurs and small companies access to wifi, printers and photocopiers.

    Mexico City Subway, Free subway tickets for customers who perform squats

    Pushing customers to embrace beneficial physical activity – if only for a moment – can also push a brand further towards ENLIGHTENMENT. January 2015 saw the Mexican government install 30 motion-sensitive machines at subway stations across Mexico City. The machines issue a token that can be redeemed for a subway ticket to any commuter who completes ten squats. Pedometers were offered to the first 80,000 participants. The scheme was introduced in response to an escalating obesity crisis in the country; according to a 2013 UN report, 32.8% of the Mexican population is obese.

    Eagle-eyed innovation watchers will have seen this idea in Russia first!

    E4, TV channel suspends broadcasting to encourage young people to vote

    Brands moving towards ENLIGHTENMENT should consider bold moves that nudge customers towards more responsible behavior. In May 2015, UK television channel E4 shut down on the day of the general election between 7am and 7pm, in a move intended to push young people to go out and vote. E4 is aimed at young adults, and is controlled by public-service broadcaster Channel 4. The channel reaches 8.7 million people aged 16-34 every month, and said its 'shock and awe tactic' was a response to the fact that fewer than half of 18-25s voted in the 2010 British general election.

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