Race for the Cure
While registering for the 2011 Race for the Cure two weeks ago, I couldn't help but notice a bit of bragging on the home page.
Apparently, Susan G. Komen for the Cure® ranked number one as the most valued non-profit brand and second on the 2010 list of the nation's most trusted charities. For someone that works with brands all day, it was a pretty lofty claim — one that I had to experience for myself.
We talk a lot of brand here at CSK: living your brand, being true to your brand, experiencing the brand. But there's something that clicks when it's not just your brand. It's your grandmother's brand. It's your neighbor's brand. It's your best friend's brand. And drowning in a proverbial sea of pink that Sunday, several of us from The CSK Group experienced what makes that famous runner's ribbon much more than a logo.
Is it the pink? Is it the telltale way it appears in every product promo during Breast Cancer Awareness Month? Or is it the fact that millions of people from a million different backgrounds all have something in common: a loved one who's fighting cancer and a promise that she won't be fighting alone?
Suddenly, the opportunity to step up and show support becomes something that's true, meaningful and distinctive to pretty much everybody.
On Sunday, September 11, team CSK marched alongside people from all walks of life. Grandmothers hooked up to oxygen tanks. Pint-sized pros marching with endearing enthusiasm. Toned athletes who ran the 5K in record time and still circled back to finish with friends and family. Football teams and cheerleading squads. Families pushing wheelchairs and strollers; husbands marching in memory. Tag after tag marked in honor of mothers, sisters, friends. It was enough to bring tears.
(And plans for next year's costume, which is going to be epic!)
It didn't matter if we didn't know Adam from Adam as he crossed the finish line — we cheered. Or how much hand sanitizer we didn't have — we high-fived everyone. We giggled at inappropriate breast-themed t-shirts. We clapped for the guy covered head-to-toe in pink body paint. We shared stories and camaraderie. And for a moment, I felt like I was part of something much bigger than the little pink logo on my t-shirt — which is, as we say at CSK, what good branding is all about.
"This stuff makes me so happy," my sister said to me after shouting something crazy at a tattooed runner in a pink Mohawk wig. "There's just something about all these different people coming together to say, 'I care.' It's so cool."
Yes, it's very cool.
And that's what makes the brand.
Jen Wilson is a Strategic Writer at The CSK Group. She has experience in both for-profit and non-profit marketing, a self-admitted coffee addiction and a healthy obsession with Colorado fall.