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Most advertising blows because its aimed at the wrong part of our anatomy.

By some estimates, we are exposed to up to 10,000 brand messages every day.

Yikes. Who among us really wants to be hit with another promotional message? Especially when it screams its features at us. Or, boasts of its industry-leading warranty. My head is already full. I have no room for what you want to say about you.

Yet, most brands don’t hesitate to crank out another self-absorbed message.

Here is the funny thing. Tell me a story about something that is incredibly moving. Give me something interesting to think about that could benefit my life. Show me you understand my aspirations and how you can help me along to path to reaching those. Even though my head is full, I suddenly have the capacity to listen to your message. Because now you’re talking to my heart. And unlike my head, it has room. In fact, it’s a bit starved for the stories of how you can help me with my aspirations.

The lion’s share of the time the world assaults our heads but forgets our hearts. Yet, it is the heart (our emotional brain) that makes all the decisions. Crazy, right? All those marketers out there are shouting at our heads when it is our hearts that you should be aiming for.

Reorienting your brand

Here’s a way to reorient your brand to aim for the hearts of your audience. Rather than obsess over what you want to say, ask:

How can we help those we hope to serve with their aspirations?

Answer that honestly and you’ll identify how your brand can align with what is really important to your audience. And when you align with what’s important to them, you become valuable.

Here’s an even more advanced exercise. Again, rather than listing out what you want to tell them, ask:

What profound positive impact can we have on a life, a community, or even the world?

This one is a little harder because you have to dig deeper. It’s easy to scoff and say your product or service has no profound effect. But every organization has the opportunity to claim their Big Audacious Meaning. And when it does, it connects with those you hope to serve in a way that is unparalleled. It is the most powerful way to win hearts.

We live in a world of distraction and information inundation. Unfortunately, with all our digital tools, it’s easier than ever for an organization to add to the cacophony of self-absorbed messages that fill our heads every day.

That’s frustrating. No, more than that, it’s tragic. Because it is our hearts that are yearning to be filled.

Dan is an expert brand strategist and author of the forthcoming book Big Audacious Meaning — Unleashing Your Purpose-Driven Story. He is a founder at Will & Grail — a brand innovation company, helping organizations find their unique, undeniable and unshakable sense of purpose and create innovative experiences that bring it to life.

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Dan is an expert brand strategist and author of the book Big Audacious Meaning — Unleashing Your Purpose-Driven Story. He is a founder at Will & Grail.

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