Who hasn’t heard of Mother Teresa and what she stands for? She was sought after by World Leaders both religious and secular. People love and admire her for her work with the poor. How did this slight Macedonian woman rise to such prominence? As marketers, we can also learn a great deal about the qualities she embodied and how she became one of the world’s greatest brands.  As we embrace her qualities we create stronger, more enduring and more meaningful brands.

The Nine Revered Brand Qualities of Mother Teresa:

1. Mother Teresa was a leader.

Great brands lead the way.  And as a leader, she was sought out by other leaders.  United States Presidents, British Royalty, Secretary-Generals of the United Nations wooed her.  Her style of leadership was that of a servant leader.  And our brands’ first mission should be to serve our patrons. We should lead and be worthy to be pursued by other great leaders.

2. Mother Teresa was disruptive.

When the world had forgotten the poorest of the poor in Calcutta she acted. In 1950, with few resources but the blessing of the Roman Catholic Church and divine inspiration, she formed Missionaries of Charity.  Superior brands must break the norm and make a difference. There are need and opportunity all around us.  Our brands must make a difference and disrupt the norms of our industries’.

3. Mother Teresa endures.

Great brands live on, some 19 years after her death Mother Teresa was made a Saint. And even after her passing the Missionaries of Charity grew from 600 to 750 homes.  Mother Teresa, the Icon is gone yet her brand and her work thrive. We need to consider how our brands can continue for decades and even centuries.  How can we build something great to last multi-generations?

4. Mother Teresa’s message was consistent.

It never wavered.   Mother Teresa has many quotes.  And the one that seems to sum up her life, her work and her message is: “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”  What is our brand message?  We must strive to clarify our message and deliver it consistently in word and application.

5. Mother Teresa was beloved.

Gallup conducted a poll in 1999 asking, “Who is the most admired person of the 20th Century?” The top response was Mother Teresa.   This poll was first conducted with an open- ended question.  No suggestions were given.  Next, the list of top persons admired was collected. Then the question was asked again as a multiple choice question.  Again, the number one answer:  Mother Teresa.  How’s that for Brand Recognition?  She was not just recognized, she was certainly beloved.  Do people love your brand, really love it?  How can we make our brands beloved?

6. Mother Teresa won awards, 124 awards to be exact.

She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979. And true to her calling, she gave the award money away to the poor. A great brand deserves to be awarded. Great brands are winners.  Is your brand winning awards?  What can you do to be recognized and awarded in your field?  And when you win, do something worthy of your award. Maybe share it with a worthy charity.

7. Mother Teresa was authentic.

She was the real deal.  She worked with AIDS patients, Lepers, the poor, the homeless.  And she did this expecting nothing in return.  A great brand is also real.  It’s 100% of what it says it is. How can we strive to be completely authentic in all of our dealings with all of our customers, employees, partners and stakeholders?  Authenticity is doing what you say you will do and doing it with integrity 100% of the time. This is something to strive for.

8. Mother Teresa was unique.

There is no other Mother Teresa.   Can you name another person that has accomplished so much for the poor, the sick and the destitute?  There is no other Mother Teresa of Calcutta.  And there may never be another.  Great brands are also unique. Our uniqueness is what makes us a brand.  It identifies us from all others.  How can we be and communicate our uniqueness in a better and more distinctive way?

9. Mother Teresa had deep faith.

Great brands exude faith and create zealous brand advocates.  The brand faithful is an extension of our brand. And, they are actually part of the brand itself.  They form it and shape it and contribute to it.  Mother Teresa’s writing shows that she kept the faith even in the face of not feeling God’s presence in her life.  That is strong faith. We can’t expect that type of faith from our brands’ fans.   We must interact with our constituency often and in meaningful ways to help them and us to continue to “keep the faith” of our brands.

Mother Teresa was an excellent role model in what to do and be to be a stellar brand.  Our brands require the continual nurturing of all of the qualities Mother Teresa exhibited and maybe more.  Mother Teresa inspires the faithful and secular alike.  I hope she has inspired us all to strive for greatness in our brands.

Was she missing any essential attributes of a great brand?  Did I leave any out?  Do you see any area she faltered in regard to her brand?  Who else inspires you to brand building greatness?

Thank you for reading and I covet your comments!

For more on Mother Teresa and on Brand Attributes see the links below:

Most admired person of the century  

The Top 7 Characteristics Of Successful Brands

What are the 8 Characteristics of a Good Brand?

Mother Teresa Fact Sheet

Mother Teresa’s mission lives on in Kolkata, grows worldwide

Mother Teresa

Mother T. in Oslo