Go Eagles...This is not a Football POST!


One of my favorite quotes, one we used in BrandED, Eric Sheninger and my book, is from Howard Schultz of Starbucks fame…Here ya go---


“In this ever-changing society. The most powerful and enduring brands are built from the heart. Their foundations are stronger because they are built with the strength of human spirit--not an ad campaign.”


In the aftermath of the recent Valentine’s Day school shooting, I turned to this quote.


Although Starbucks’ muscle of brand power is flexing in a highly publicized 30,000 square foot “coffee shop” in Shanghai,this is not the true test of those words.This is a reference to the strength of the human spirit in a deeper way. Since February 14th, I’ve seen an illustration of strength played out for a nation that captures what Shultz  meant about brands being built from the heart. Yes... Brands are built from the heart. And the gut feeling, the emotion they convey is what becomes the glue for a community.


The identity system… the logo and surface features of the high school brand are formed around the  EAGLE in the case of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. That system is typical for high schools. Schools have colors,a mascot, a school song. But what the students in this school have shown us is their true brand, something they are building every day that shows the simple message of shown in hashtags like #neveragain. Much is invisible to the eye, we don’t see the depth of  what these young people  are processing, but their action of this is remarkably apparent.


They demonstrate   belonging, owning  feelings that move to action --and spark a wave of belief as young people communicate their need to thrive without wondering if they will survive any given school day. This looks like a simple heartfelt movement and its emotion defies reason. That’s the essence of brand. Beyond the logo and mascot, this brand is stirring other Gen Z students across other high school campuses. Gen Z, the digital natives are showing us how to grow a heartfelt brand from tragedy.


Shultz refers to a campaign in the quote. A campaign is coming from this on March 24th, make no mistake. What I continue to remark about in the college classrooms I teach in, in the trainings that I do, on the stages I keynote, and finally in a long overdue blogpost is the power of simple messaging. Belonging that creates deep bonds in a community. Belief that grows a legacy and brings change to what was thought to be unchangeable.


Go Eagles...spread those wings.