The tragedy unfolding in the Philippine Island right now with Typhoon Haiyan gives us good pause to take a break from talking about brand strategy, theory or application. Instead, we should focus our thoughts around a central idea — our shared humanity.

It’s true that our world is more interconnected and globally aware now more than ever before in human history. We are able to effortlessly connect with people, products and organizations 1000s of miles away. The 24 hour news cycle, social media, the internet, telecommunications and the travel industry have made this connection accessible to most of the developed world.

Yet in our interconnectedness, only a few brands have chosen to mobilize their networks to provide resources and financial relief to the many affected by this tragedy.

As of this writing, here’s the short list:

  • Apple has activated the American Red Cross donation system through iTunes and added a link to their homepage. Click Here to donate.
  • AT&T has waived fees to contact the Philippines.
  • Verizon has waived fees to contact the Philippines.
  • Amazon is allowing donations through their site directly to the American Red Cross and has added a link to their homepage. Click Here to donate.

Its shocking.

Out of the top 100 most valuable brands (with the largest potential reach) I can find only four brands that have chosen to get involved.

Imagine the Impact If…

Imagine the impact if Google chose to place a donation link on its homepage.

Imagine the impact if Coca-Cola chose to produce a commercial with relief instructions.

Imagine the impact if Bank of America chose to allow you to ‘round-up’ on your purchases to donate.

Imagine the impact if McDonalds chose to give away fries for a donation.

Imagine the impact if…________________.


Doing Good For Goodness Sake

Yet in our interconnectedness, it’s a shame when brands seem to only focus on ‘doing good’ when ‘doing good’ can benefit the margin line.

I’m sure there are board room discussions happening right now that center around the costs and benefits of getting involved. I’ve heard them asked before. “What will the perception be if we get involved?” “Does this align with our brand personality?” “Should we wait until ______ gets involved?” “Can we get the media to cover our involvement?”

These questions should never be asked. Especially in light of human catastrophe.

Doing good is never a cost benefit analysis.

A brand’s involvement, when it comes to human tragedy, should be a knee jerk, immediate, and non-leveraged reaction. The ultimate good in building a network so large is not to monetize it, but to use it to better our human existence.

We should always practice branding for good, not for margins.

If you would like to get involved, here’s a list of nine organizations originally posted by Mashable to which you can contribute:
  • The Philippine Red CrossDonations will help mobilize teams on the ground with rescue and relief efforts.
  • The United Nations World Food ProgrammeThe WFP has set up an online donation page that will help rush food and resources to the regions affected.
  • UNICEFDonations will help children gain access to medical supplies and clean drinking water. “Safe drinking water can be impossible to find after such a massive natural disaster. And without it, a child will drink whatever water she can find, no matter how dirty or diseased. That drink can quickly lead to diarrhea, disease and death,” UNICEF president Caryl M. Stern said.
  • World Vision: World Vision is working to get food and resources to those in evacuation shelters.
  • Catholic Relief ServicesCRS is helping with the storm’s aftermath by getting supplies and staff into the area.
  • Salvation ArmyDonate online for the Salvation Army’s relief efforts, or text TYPHOON to 80888 to immediately donate $10.
  • Save the Children: Donations will help children and families in the Philippines, Laos and Vietnam. Ten percent of every donation will go toward preparing for any future disasters in the area.
  • Habitat for HumanityDonations will help create shelter-repair kits for families rebuilding their homes.
  • GlobalMedicThe Canadian organization is working to get clean water to victims.