The Story of
IT ALL STARTED WITH THE HUMANE BUSINESS MANIFESTO...
A few years ago I had an epiphany that led me to reserve the domain name for “The Gentle Business Revolution.” With all the ‘nongentleness’ going on in the world, I knew it was the perfect term.
The Gentle Marketing Revolution book launched during the Random Acts of Kindness week in February 2021.
It felt great and exactly how I had envisioned it: gentle, valuable and not focused on me but rather on the idea of kindness in business.
If you missed it, you can watch a replay of the book birthing party here 🙂
So things felt great.
Unfortunately, two weeks later I opened my email inbox to some devastating news: a Cease & Desist letter from a US lawyer, representing an entrepreneur, asking me to stop using the brand ‘Gentle Marketing’ with immediate effect as she had just deposited it as a Trademark in January.
My plea to discuss and collaborate, as Gentle Marketers instead, were refused.
I was in a very dark, bad place.
Yes, I admit there was self-pity, crying over everything I had built in the last 2 years, the book, the program, the concept. But it was bigger than that: my ideal world was shattered. Call me naive (and of course, call me a Hippie), but I really believe in a world of abundance and collaboration. So this all just didn’t make sense to me.
After 3 weeks in a foggy depressed state, taking legal advice, talking to hubby and friends, it occurred to me that I still had a choice: I could either invest time, energy and money into a lengthy legal procedure – or I could chose to accept what was hers according to the legal system and instead start over. Invest my energy into something positive.
I chose the latter.
Immediately after my decision to walk away from ‘Gentle Marketing’, I started looking for a different term. My husband will testify that this was a fortnight of pure anxiety, sleepless nights and self-doubt.
Because once I made peace with the idea that if I wanted to avoid a similar situation again in two years, I had to find a term that no one else was using yet!!! Because what I learned from this Trademark mess is that it’s not enough if the trademark has not been deposited yet, the opponent can still claim, under statutory law, that he/she has used it first.
On the quest for the new brand...
You can imagine that words like:
had already been taken.
It was always about the Human Connection
So since all these synonyms of ‘gentle’ were already taken, I went back to my website to see what other words came I’d been using to describe this different approach of marketing over the years.
And there it was, right on my home page I say:
In the Manifesto I wrote:
“So what happened? Well, it almost seems like entrepreneurs became the new companies, using similar mass media techniques the big names used in the 90’s.
Without being fully aware of what we were doing, we started using guilt, fear, false urgency and manipulation in our marketing. Maybe not in the same aggressive ways as the big internet marketing gurus, but subtle, almost unconscious ways to convince more clients to buy our products and services. We started talking AT our customers instead of WITH them.
So something got lost along the way.
It’s true, it wasn’t our fault. We didn’t do it on purpose. We have been trained to believe that that’s how it’s done if we want a successful business. And everywhere we looked, that’s what we saw. So we complied. We used the templates, the success-recipes and ‘persuasion hacks’… and we gave up our authentic selves. We forgot that it’s all about the Human Connection.”
What today’s conscious consumers really want is:
- More purpose and meaning.
- More human connection.
- More community and belonging.
I knew I was getting closer, but I wasn’t there yet.
Because as you can imagine, the term Human Marketing was already snapped up as well.
Next step of the journey: Africa
The next signpost on my journey to the new brand landed me in Africa. As these things often go, it was a serendipitous event that brought the term ‘Ubuntu’ to my attention.
Maybe you have never heard about ‘Ubuntu’, or maybe you know it as the Linux open source software 🙂
I was reintroduced to the term through a podcast guest, Ursula Jorch who mentioned it in our on ‘Making Impact as a Solopreneur or Small Business’ episode.
Here’s the meaning of Ubuntu according to Wikipedia:
Ubuntu is a Nguni Bantu term meaning “humanity”. It is sometimes translated as “I am because you are”, or “humanity towards others”, but is often used in a more philosophical sense to mean “the belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity”.
You cannot have a business without human relationships. Therefore marketing and selling relies on you being human!
I love this term and its meaning and remembered studying it for an essay about Nelson Mandela that I had to present at school. I must have been fourteen or fifteen.
And… yes, the term had never been used in the context of marketing.
As much as I loved it, I realized that as a white privileged woman I couldn’t do it justice. Because my research showed that ‘Ubuntu’ was much more than a word, it really was a philosophy. And as a Westerner, even with a Hippie upbringing, I just knew I didn’t fully understand it because these terms that come with a history need to be embodied, not just adopted.
Still, I loved the idea and meaning of it, so I was determined to find something similar. Something equally meaningful.
I had to take one more detour, but we’re almost there…
During 2020 I was introduced to something called the Bento Society, a global community that is very much in alignment with my values and I’ve been attending their weekly Sunday calls regularly.
Bento (an acronym for BEyond Near Term Orientation) is a wider lens for what’s valuable and in our self-interest.
It’s a simple tool for making decisions aligned with our values and goals, looking at ourselves, others and taking time into consideration.
This includes what I as an individual want and need right now (Now Me). But it also makes space for the considerations of our future selves (Future Me), the people we rely on and who rely on us (Now Us), and the next generation (Future Us). All of these spaces impact us and are impacted by us.
Can you tell that this is somehow related to Ubuntu and its ‘I am because you are’ philosophy?
Using this model helps us make decisions that are not only based on our self-interest, but truly care about everyone else involved: our clients, our planet and our future generations.
In The Gentle Marketing Revolution book I call this the Triple Win. In short, we truly care for everyone. That’s what shared humanity is.
To summarize the new brand had to...
Be gentle and kind
Reflect the opposite of aggressive, manipulative and hype
Include the aspect of ‘shared humanity’ and common good
Show the Triple Win philosophy. Win for ourselves, win for the client, win for the planet.
Display the revolutionary aspect and the paradigm change
Be unique and ‘never’ used before
And that's the Story Behind ...
And for the book title I chose ‘Marketing Like We’re Human’. Same book, different title.
In the logo and the official trademark I added the abbreviation ‘Gen’
to avoid any confusion with the already existing mark ‘Human Marketing’.
It stands for:
I love all the different meanings you can pack into this new term!
It is gentle, but it is so much bigger than that!
I hope you like it too!
Thanks for reading! ♥
P.S. In my research I also came across this wonderful white paper on Humane Marketing by Alexandru-Mircea Nedelea, Ph.D and Associate Professor of Marketing at the University Stefan cel Mare of Suceava, Romania and his wife Marilena-Oana. I’m sharing it here with his permission.