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5 min read

Brand. Culture. Design.


In search of true perspectives - creating a better world and be better humans!

Join me in the search of discovering the Brand perception and seeking a new perspective of truth and finding our own paths to reality.

What if you wake up one morning and you realize that the toothpaste that you always had, which had a brand associated with it was always white. You never questioned it. It was the norm. Just the way it is supposed to be. Now what if the toothpaste is now black, does that change your perspective?

Now, this is what I needed for change.

I was always using the white toothpaste — Colgate or Crest or think of any named white toothpaste out there. I realized that even after all the caring for my teeth, I still have to go to the dentist and recently found out that I have to get a crown which is expensive and I don’t want to if I can avoid it. But I know I will have to one day.

So I asked myself: “what if I changed the toothpaste?” I always had white toothpaste. And I remembered Einstein’s quote: “… you cannot do the same thing and expect different results”.

And guess what my alternative was that I came across?

Hello - A black toothpaste with activated charcoal and fluoride-free. I’m not saying this toothpaste is going to do miracles for me, but it did feel good to do something different from the norm.

Power of a brand

Now, that’s what the power of a brand is. I was reading Debbie Millman’s book on Brand Thinking and it got me thinking about brand value and perception.

The reality is that we are comfortable with what we know. In her book, Debbie and her guests talk about brand as an innovation and bringing together the familiar with the unknown. If it’s too far out there, it’s hard for us to take in, but if it’s a little good or comfortable and a little bit of unknown, we are ready to take a leap of faith.

Now, going back to this Hello toothpaste. I think once I started using activated charcoal face masks, I probably got comfortable with the idea of charcoal. So trying this toothpaste didn’t feel out there, but then it also challenged the norm. I always used white toothpaste thinking that a white toothpaste was going to make my teeth white.

Now it piqued my interest to see if this black toothpaste with activated charcoal is going to make my teeth white and clean. I liked the idea of natural ingredients and this felt good. And while brushing my teeth, if I dropped the toothpaste on the carpet or my t-shirt, it’s going to leave a stain. But it was worth the risk.

This was very fascinating. So, I started paying more attention to the brands, I wanted to be associated with.

Culture and community

In the beginning, when I started to manage my own finances and budget, I was cautious of what I was buying. So, when I would walk into the store, I would be overwhelmed with the choices and then, my choice would be to just go with the cheapest or midpoint option. It didn’t matter whether it was olive oil or mayonnaise or toothpaste or shampoo for that matter. With essentialism, it’s not that I buy a lot of things, and the few things that I do buy, I started to make a conscious choice.

I recently bought dishwashing soap. Yes, I wash dishes by hand every day, which is another story. It’s part of my mindful practice: when I wash the dishes, I wash the dishes as Thich Naht Hanh shared in his book on Mindfulness.

I wanted to see if there were brands that were more eco-friendly and came across Seventh Generation. And before I knew it, I was also buying dryer sheets from the same brand. And then I looked at the hand soap, and I realized that I had an affinity to brands like Method.

And I started moving away from brands that I grew up with like Pantene, Colgate, Olay, and others.

Is it that these brands couldn’t live up to the expectations of today? The world around us changed so much that we are now more eco-conscious and want to build a world that is better and leave the world to be a better place than we found it to be.

Even the brands that I use like Aveda and Origins make me think there’s something more fundamental in the decision-making of which brands we choose.

And in the book, Debbie also talks about brand as a community and I believe there is something powerful here. I live and breathe in communities. A community is where I feel like I belong and can be my whole true self, whether it’s my Fearless community, World Happiness Foundation, or Raleigh City Farm. Or even my professional communities like the Product Marketing Alliance, Women in APIs, ADPlist, Unsplash, and Google local guides. These are all brands that I want to be associated with, because they make me feel like I belong.

Cheers to those who are seeking brands that define who we are in our purest essence. That define the world around us and make us all better humans.

Simplistic Design

When I think of Allbirds, it comes down to simplicity and sustainability, and is the best walking shoes a walker like me can ask for. Its design meets purpose at its core.

There’s also another part of design that I realized that I am associated with. My love for Scandinavian Designs for contemporary furniture or Dyson, that challenged the norm and set out to create a cooling fan and a heater in one elegant design. Brilliance at its best.

There is true power in brand and there is exceptional power in culture. We are all looking for a mirror to reflect ourselves with these associations. And to say, this is who we are, and this is who I want to be.

Look at the brands in your home and workplace and ask yourself:

  • Who do you want to be in your home and at work?
  • How can we all do our part to create the world we want it to be?
  • How can we leave this world to be a better place than we found it?

In one of my mentoring sessions, I came across BeZen, creating a unique solution to make it easy for sustainable choices. I am humbled by the opportunity to know there is hope and there are folks making this world a better place.

I love BeZen’s mission and goal to enable 100 million consumers to live more sustainably by 2031.

Would you like to share your thoughts about brand culture? Join the B2B Marketing Alliance Community!

Written by:

Div Manickam

Div Manickam

Div has led product marketing in B2B SaaS startups and Fortune 500 technology companies for 10+ years. She enjoys sharing experiences on authentic leadership and evolution of product marketing.

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Brand. Culture. Design.