Helping Businesses Grow Via Branding

bCause founder/CEO Robin Kumabe. PHOTO FROM ROBIN KUMABE

bCause founder/CEO Robin Kumabe. PHOTO FROM ROBIN KUMABE

A lot of times, it seems that the reality of things can fall short of our expectations of how we think it is supposed to be. But now there is a local company that aims to safeguard against that kind of letdown, at least in the business realm.

At bCause, founder and CEO Robin Kumabe helps businesses align the brand they project to the public with the actual experience that they provide.

“Take United Airlines’ ‘Fly the Friendly Skies’ slogan,” she explains. “You’re expecting that when you fly it is going to be a friendly experience. And if you have an unhappy, stressed-out flight attendant who is just throwing you your peanuts, that is a counterpoint in your experience.

“If you are going to say something on the outside, then you need to deliver on it,” she adds. “Because the more times you don’t, the more expectations go unmet, and the more unhappy customers that you have.”

Especially in today’s environment, maintaining that type of brand consistency is just good business sense. If someone is unhappy with a company, they may leave a scathing review online.

To ensure that customer experience matches or exceeds expectations, bCause strategizes alongside clients to establish brand integrity. First, Kumabe strives to understand the organization internally — its mission, vision and values. Then she looks at how the business is perceived from the outside. Together, they find a way to strengthen and clarify the message to reflect what they are trying to accomplish. At the foundation of changing the message is integrating any necessary changes within the business itself.

Branding is something of an encore career for Kumabe, who got her start as an interior designer at architectural firms here and in

California. At age 27, she launched her own company, Interior Spaces, where her projects included hotel restorations throughout Hawaii.

In 1999, she got her first taste of branding when she teamed up with her brother David Takeuchi, who had been working at a marketing firm, to construct a re-branding campaign for Hawaiian Airlines. Soon after that, the siblings struck out on their own to launch branding agency Bedrock Consultants. With offices in Honolulu and Oakland, Bedrock became a success, taking on numerous big-name clients.

But after a while, that wasn’t enough for Kumabe.

“I wasn’t able to make an impact, and it wasn’t having as much meaning for me,” she recalls. “What I love doing is working with cause-driven organizations.”

With bCause, which Kumabe launched in 2011, she works exclusively with such organizations. She defines “cause-driven organizations” as groups that work toward improving the community in some way, whether it be cultivating social justice or preserving the environment. Some bCause clients, for example, have included Good Beginnings Alliance, Kupu Hawaii and Abilities Unlimited.

Through this process of creating brand integrity, bCause ultimately aims to improve customer experience while creating growth for the business. These two elements, Kumabe stresses, are reliant on one another.

“There is something missing in branding when we’re looking at it for the external customer and what they see,” she says. “You could develop a beautiful brand on the outside, but it is only an image. There’s no depth, unless we are allowed to work on the inside.”

For more information, visit bcause.biz.

coconnor@midweek.com