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Live from FEI 2013: Beyond Profit and Non-Profit

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What do you think? If we designed with empathy, do you think companies would have to spend billions and billions of dollars finding people to buy their products? That was one of the questions posed by presenter, Manoj Fenelon.

Fenelon believes companies would spend less. In fact he shared, "Advertising is a tax you pay for unremarkable thinking." Fenelon's point is that social issues and business go hand in hand.

In a 10 year study by UCLA and Millward Brown of the worlds leading brands, researchers found the top brands are the ones that pull off fundamental brand ideals. This leads to the question, why?

  • Brand ideals allow companies to look further into the horizon because they have strong values
  • Brand ideals help companies recruit employees to join a "movement" rather than just do a job
  • Brand ideals create shared value which helps make up for the ills of capitalism

Fenelon believes the companies that focus on improving the quality of life will be the ones that come out on top in the future. Examples include:

  • IBM (where people go to work to make the planet smarter). At IBM, it is not about hardware, but about a brand ideal. In this case, innovation came with a sacrifice. Though not easy, IBM sold its PC business to Lenovo in order to better align with its brand ideal
  • M-Pesa helps the unbanked of the world access financial services via text
  • SEMCO, S.A. where leadership treats employees like adults and allows them to set their own salary

In summary focusing on empathy and finding a higher purpose can help businesses innovate while delivering on a mission.

Alicia Arnold holds a Master of Science in Creativity, Innovation and Change Leadership from the International Center for Studies in Creativity at Buffalo State College and an M.B.A in Marketing from Bentley University. She enjoys writing about creativity and innovation and is published with Bloomberg Businessweek, the Huffington Post, The National Association of Gifted Children, and iMedia Connection. In her role as an award winning, digital marketer, she uses her passion for creativity and innovation to develop breakthrough digital and social experiences. You can connect with Alicia on Twitter @alicarnold.

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