Back in 1986 when we started the Barefoot Wine brand, we made up a name because there wasn’t a name for it yet. We called it “Worthy Cause Marketing” because we wanted to focus on causes that were particularly appropriate for our brand, causes that were “worthy” of our brand logo, image, and message. And conversely, we looked for causes where our brand resonated with them as well, making our brand worthy of being their champion. Both sides have to benefit from the co-promotion.
The best alliances are the ones that make sense from a variety of stand points. Ask yourself these questions to choose a non-profit that resonates with your brand:
- What is your logo? What message does it convey beyond the image? Is there a cause that your logo can naturally represent? Health, Efficiency, Strength, Education, Culture, Conservation, Human Rights, Arts, Shelter, and Community Affairs are just a few of the general causes that already exist. Which ones can your logo best resonate with? We had a barefoot on our label so we supported clean beaches and clean oceans where many folks enjoy going barefoot.
- What is your brand image? Not just what your marketing people think about it, but how do your customers view it? If you’re viewed as strong, you can help the weak. If you are influential, you can help the community. If your customers have an endearing nickname for your brand, go with it and see how that resonates with an appropriate cause to support. We projected a fun image so we supported parks, arts, and concerts.
- What is your marketing slogan or catch phrase? Is there some way that phrase can represent a cause? Or can you rephrase slightly to give it a whole new cause-related meaning? We took our catch phrase, “Get Barefoot and Have a Great Time,” and modified it when supporting clean beaches to “Get Barefoot on the Clean Beach!”
- Is your brand dependent on supplies and manufacturing that are close to residential neighborhoods? If so you have a perfect opportunity to demonstrate that you are indeed a good neighbor. When your manufacturing practices are eco-friendly, you are contributing to the ecological health of the neighborhood. When your adjacent neighborhood endorses your practices, your brand is in a better position to expand to other neighborhoods.
- What is your passion? What is the passion of your people? How can you align your brand with those passions? Include in your marketing goals support for causes that align with your personal beliefs and those of your company. By supporting causes that resonate with your passions you will be seen as committed to those causes by using your business as a vehicle to get their word out.
Everyone wants to make the world a better place. Hey, it just feels good! But there’s also a solid business reason to do it. If you have partnered correctly, these causes have pre-existing networks of potential customers and qualified buyers. We found that the members of the non-profits want to support the businesses that support their causes. They’ll be enthusiastic advocates for your brand! When they can choose any brand, they’ll have a social reason to choose yours!
Who Are We.
Having built and sold a bestselling national brand, we appreciate the value of brands and everything it takes to make them successful. Companies are valued by their brand equity. Achieving and maximizing brand equity requires tremendous respect for all your customers, from your wholesaler to your end user.
Starting in our laundry room with no money and no knowledge of the industry, we built the famous Barefoot Wine brand. We learned a lot they don’t teach in school and much of it the hard way. Although our success was in consumer products, our real world experience will be helpful to anyone looking for information and advice about brands.
We have written the New York Times Bestselling Business Book, The Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle and Heart Built America’s #1 Wine Brand, which chronicles the history of the famous brand from its inception through its acquisition. Our book is now required reading in schools of entrepreneurship across the country. We hope this book will provide inspiration and encouragement for all those contemplating starting a brand or wanting to improve their existing brand.
Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey
-Barefoot Wine Founders