On taking a stand. And sparking movements.

The other day, I had an aha moment when I was talking to Emily, our Maven of Calm. She quietly stated, “We don’t use the word movement much these days.” It almost startled me when she said it out loud. When did we shy away from it? Is movement too big of a promise? Where do we stand on that now?

Lately, I’ve been preaching this:

Human connection is the most powerful force on Earth.

Brains on Fire is the business of connecting humans around causes and shared passions in an effort to create a community of advocates around brands and organizations. It’s what we do.

But do we spark movements? Can we confidently make that statement?

In our first book, Brains on Fire; Igniting Powerful Sustainable Word of Mouth Movements, we define movements like this:

A movement elevates and empowers people to unite community around a common cause, passion, company, brand or organization. A sustainable movement happens when customers and employees share their passion for a business or cause and become a self-perpetuation force for excitement, ideas, communication and growth. In other words, movements inspire advocacy.

One of my all-time favorite lines from that same book is from Justine Foo, a PhD of Neuroscience and part of our extended Brains on Fire team:

“The role of traditional branding is to influence behavior. The difference with movements is to inspire.”

Our work is not about shouting our client’s messages from the rooftops, it’s about inspiring others to tell the stories that matter in their lives. It’s about connecting people. It’s about fighting injustices in the world – large and small – and empowering people to be a part of something bigger than their own lives. It’s hard work, not a magic marketing bullet. It’s messy. And it’s fun.

Helping our clients truly collide with the people they serve makes lives better. It also creates movement, advocacy and meaningful change in the world.

As I reflect over the work we’ve done in the last decade, the word that comes to my heart and mind is honored. Our clients trust us daily to help them do something more than make pretty pictures and write clever taglines. They are some of the most courageous people on the planet. I’m so proud that we have a number of clients who have actually changed jobs and taken us with them to their next destination.

We have learned a lot since our first book came out in 2010, eight amazing years ago.

We’ve done some things right and we tripped and had to course correct a time or two. But I do believe that we’ve stayed the course. It’s not about the product conversation, it’s about the passion conversation still rings true.

And most of all, this is our guiding light:

It’s about people. Always has been and hopefully always, always will be.


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