July 17, 2021

Brand Inspiration: charity: water


Posted by Sharmarke Hujale


4 min read


Nowadays, brands are more powerful than ever. They have the power to influence us emotionally and make us purchase products — even if it’s inconvenient. 

Certain brands that we buy from or join becomes an identification for us. If you buy a product from this brand, you’re making a decision (subconsciously at least) that says I want to be a part of this tribe or this movement. 

Marty Neumeier, the author of various books such as THE BRAND GAP, ZAG, and FLIP, says: “A brand is a person’s gut feeling about the product, service, or organization — it exists in the hearts and minds of individuals.” And he also says: “A brand is not about what you say it is, it’s what they say it is.” 

We got that definition out of the way. A brand is not a company’s product or service — or even its logo. We all carry certain assumptions and feelings of a company’s brand, their reputation — whether it’s good or bad. 

Great brands have the capacity to inspire us — and in some cases get us to take action. I’m going to share some brands that inspire me, and that I believe have done wonderful things — not for themselves, but other people. 

charity: water

charity: water, founded by Scott Harrison, is a non-profit organization whose mission is to end the water crisis. What I found the most inspiring about the organization is that the vision is to reinvent charity — to make people trust charities again, and that’s not an easy task. 

Because if they can’t gain the trust of the people who are going to donate, then they can’t work on their mission. 

When you see non-profit organizations posting images of little children living a difficult life, it’s hard to turn the other cheek around. You feel guilty — since you have the money to give to a good cause, but end up not doing it (I’m guilty of that too). 

There was a time that I met a fundraiser in my city. And I remember vividly how persistent she was for me to sign-up for the organization she was part of. I kindly told her, that I’m already donating to another organization. But she persisted. 

The reason being I’m Somali, and an African person so, therefore I must join, she said. She was also an African person. But the point is, what I felt at that time, and I’m sure that many have too, guilty for not donating. And that’s not inspiring. 

What Scott Harrison does with charity: water is to communicate that giving is a blessing, not something you are forced to do. You can see it in their messaging and visuals. It’s about opportunities and hope, not guilt and shame. That’s inspiring. 

They utilize technology such as the GPS to share with the donor where the money exactly went. Scott Harrison talks about the organization as visual communicators.

They use the power of storytelling (images, videos, and sounds) to drive action. The data he provides is a supplement to his engaging stories of various individuals he has encountered. 

Scott Harrison of charity: water — The Power of Storytelling

Scott Harrison mentioned how his trip to Africa changed the course of his life — forever. And how before that — he was spiritually, morally, and emotionally bankrupt. His talk about his journey really gives you a good glimpse of what kind of person the founder Scott Harrison is and how uses charity: water to do incredible work.

In short, What We Can Learn From charity: water:

  • Instead of guilt-tripping people, show opportunities to people with what you’re trying to accomplish.
  • Use images, videos, and sounds to tell engaging stories, appeal to people’s senses, and make them immersed in the story.
  • Have a compelling vision that includes all people to be a part of a movement.

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