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Never define yourself by what you are NOT.

NOTPOSTEDITEDDefining a brand or organization by what it is NOT is never a strategy for building an enduring enterprise. The reason we buy brands and support organizations is because of what they are, what they do, and the benefit they provide.

The fact that Tylenol does NOT contain aspirin may be important for those folks who have delicate stomachs or young children, but if the brand didn’t promise superior relief it would not have over a billion dollars in annual sales. Diet Coke does NOT contain sugar but the same is true for bottled water and a lot of other beverages. So after years of bouncing around from one tagline to another, they have returned to the brand’s original taste promise (remember “Just for the taste of it?”) to try to stem slumping sales. What you are NOT is usually a categorical definition like in ‘NO caffeine’ or ‘NO GMOs.’ It is merely the cost of entry.

Which brings me to one of my least favorite categorical terms: NON-PROFIT. If there is a less inspiring term I can’t think of it. No one contributes money, time or talents to a NON-anything.

We contribute to help enrich lives, cure diseases and make a positive impact on the world, even if the government allows us to claim a tax deduction. Awhile back we worked with one of the world’s most amazing organizations most people have never heard of. Based in Columbus, Ohio, Battelle Memorial Institute makes our world safer, healthier and more sustainable by ‘solving what matters most,’ the term we created to define who they are. However, what makes Battelle even more remarkable is that they contribute their ‘profits’ back to the community to support science, technology, engineering, and math education. The more money they make the more they can give back.

So while the IRS classifies them as a non-profit, we felt they deserved to be defined in a much more elevated way. So we created the term ‘Profits For Purpose’ to inspire and motivate all of their people in the incredible work they do.

Defining your brand or organization through language that you can own can separate you out from categorical definitions like non-profit, particularly if they define you by what you ARE, rather than what you are NOT.

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