Debra Jarvis

Not all TED Talks are breathtaking or inspirational. But, like anything you come across, if you stay open, bigger messages and thoughts may arise. This happened to me listening to a TED Talk given by a female chaplain, Debra Jarvis in 2014. I really got to thinking about a crossover statement she made about the role of the chaplain. Suffice it to say that I am not at all religious and this post is not about religion. However, Jarvis’ talk is full of good sense about life, delivered with humor and due pathos, and made me think about branding and leadership in a different way. I’ll publish a second inspired post on leadership next. I reviewed the talk, certainly with a careful eye on the #ParisAttacks. Especially for those who have experienced trauma, there is a risk to let the trauma define who you are. Jarvis had two particularly powerful lines:

Meaning is dynamic.
Claim your experience.”

Meaning is dynamic

What place does meaning have in business? At its core, it’s about finding connection. For companies and brand managers interested in meaningfulness, there is a sense that meaning and purpose is organic. If a brand’s principles and values should be immutable, bedrocks that underscore the organization’s actions and behaviors, purpose (and meaning) resides on a higher plane. I think of purpose as a North setting on a compass, that helps craft the brand’s direction — and drives decision-making — according to new developments. And, indeed, as Jarvis says, 'meaning does shift as the context changes' Share on X

Claiming your brand experience

In her talk, Jarvis is specifically referring to the challenge of overcoming a trauma (breast cancer). “Don’t let the disease define you,” she affirms. For each person, through their own trauma, there is a unique story and journey to be 'claimed' Share on X As she ends her talk, she says poignantly, that this is her stop on the bus [of life]. What did this inspire for me as a brand guy? For some of you who follow my writings, you will know how the concept of experience is an important part of the brand delivery. Experience is one of the 5E’s of the new marketing. Brands that want to stand out need to create experiences for their customers. An ‘easy’ answer can be going out and sponsoring an event that is, by definition, a unique moment. But, I think it’s essential to have a brand imprint on the experiences you are wishing to create. You want the customer to say at the end of the experience, that yours was an experience that only your brand could pull off. For example, Redken, a company that I had the distinction to run for several years, holds a bi-annual Redken Symposium that no other brand in its industry is able to pull off. Another great example is Red Bull that has a capacity to execute stunts of which no other brand is capable. So, brand managers: claim your brand experience!

Debra Jarvis’ talk on Youtube:

What thoughts are going through your mind? Please do comment!

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