From a very early age she had a drive to help others and to be productive. She helped the man hired to repaint the family home. At the age of ten she nursed her brother – who was severely injured after a fall – back to health. She played with -and kept up with the boys. She learned ‘proper social skills’ from a female cousin. It was an approach to life she would carry with her throughout her life.
She became an educator as a young woman and opened the first free school in New York. Frustrated that a man was named to head the school, she moved to Washington D.C. and worked in the U.S. Patent Office. Her true purpose in life wouldn’t become apparent to her until well into the Civil War. As the war raged on, her father convinced her that it was her Christian duty to offer care and aid to soldiers. She did just that.
She collected supplies, mainly from Ladies Aid societies and convinced a Union general to allow her to work on the front lines. She worked near famous battles such as the Second Bull Run, Antietam and Fredericksburg. During the end of the war she worked at the Andersonville Prison Camp, where she made a hospital to aid survivors – over 13,000 had died there.
After the war she toured the country speaking about her experiences – which left her exhausted both physically and mentally. She traveled to Europe for some rest and while in Switzerland she became familiar with a movement to organize support for the war injured. She vowed to launch the concept in the U.S.
In 1881 she not only started an American chapter of the group, she led the charge to have the Geneva Convention ratified. Her vision for the organization’s American chapter went beyond aiding the war injured – including aiding victims of national disasters and other misfortune. She led the organization until 1904 when she retired at the age of 83. During that time, the organization had helped victims of fires, floods, hurricanes, famine, tornadoes and yellow fever.
Continuing its mission after her departure – the group she started has grown into one of the largest charitable organizations in America. In 2012, they provided nearly 10,000,000 meals, over 100,000 nights’ stays and almost 7,000,000 relief items in the U.S. alone. In 2013, they had 146 large disaster relief efforts in 42 states and they responded to over 52,000 house fires. They collect, store and distribute over 40% of the U.S. blood supply. They have an A- rating from Charity Watch and are the second most searched charity according to Charity Tracker.
From virtually every perspective, the numbers of people helped and assistance provided are staggering. These statistics are not what determines a fearless brand. This massive amount of aid and care is distributed because of a fearless brand – the American Red Cross.
Fearless Brands are built from individuals’ drive and vision – but they survive through a collective spirit.
Clara Barton is the founder of the American Red Cross and was the driving force behind its becoming the most significant humanitarian organization heading into the twentieth century. However, the inspiration for her initiative came from others – the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to be exact. That group first met eighteen years before the American chapter was founded.
The concept begun by the ICRC spawned the formation of the American Red Cross – which has come to play a considerable role in aiding in international catastrophes, conflicts and humanitarian causes. Over 100 million people were helped in 73 countries last year alone. Over time, 1.1 billion children have received vaccinations.
Again, the statistics are almost unfathomable. The stories of those helped – lives touched – are powerful. But it’s what drives these results – what provides the momentum – which is truly magical. That magic is an emotional connection which connects the members, volunteers and donors – the people that prepare and stand ready to respond to natural disaster, war and human suffering. The ones who literally give their blood, sweat and tears.
What is the emotional connection? It’s the realization that disaster can strike at any time and affect virtually any one. It’s the belief in man helping man. It’s achieving the triumph of the human spirit. It’s that connection that has allowed the American Red Cross to continue for over 130 years.
Clara Barton was a dynamic, progressive, driven and influential individual. Her original vision was inspired by others and in turn – she inspired more people. No one person is bigger than the organization but each individual plays a critical role in its success. It’s a classic example of the sum being greater than the total of the parts. It’s that magical integration of people and purpose that makes the Red Cross a fearless brand.
That same integration – that same magic – can make your business a fearless brand.
Every venture needs a vision, a why – Clara had a vision which drove her – which allowed her to build a successful organization. If you don’t have a clear vision – if you haven’t embraced your why – your chance at success is compromised.
Employees need to buy in to that vision – You’re well on your way to success when the people you employ understand and embrace your vision. What can be better than a team focused on one goal – one purpose?
Your people are your greatest assets – What’s better than a team focused on one goal is a team of individuals who also realize that they are valued for who they are – for their unique contributions. Tap into your people. Make the most of their personal brand to guarantee the success of your business brand.
Build emotional connections – Your vision is your emotional connection and it connects with your people when they buy in. Their emotional connection increases exponentially when employees know their skills are integral to success – that they are appreciated. The magic grows because that emotion is contagious and it passes on to your customers – and that’s the key to successful branding.
The American Red Cross is a magnificent example of a highly effective organization – one which has a vision, people who buy into that vision and know that their unique skills are appreciated. It’s a winning formula. It’s a sure way to build a fearless brand.
Importantly, it’s a formula which you can incorporate into your business – for little or no cost – which will ensure that you are getting the most from your brand. That’s what building a fearless brand is all about – maximizing your value. The more value you provide, the more profit you will realize.