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Brand strategist presents film

| Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Emily Hughes Smith, owner and brand strategist for Naissance, Inc., discussed the importance of using individual talents for philanthropic work Tuesday.

Smith, who specializes in design work and brand development, she said she has done work for major retailers including Victoria’s Secret and Penguin Books.

Her short film “Designed to Care: Every heart deserves to be held. Every story deserves to be told,” was inspired by an NPR report highlighting the increasing numbers of children and teenagers who cross the U.S. border each day, she said.

“More than 79,000 children and teenagers have crossed the U.S. border without their parents,” Smith said. “Most of them are from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, fleeing murder, extortion, rape and abuse.”

Smith said these numbers were shocking to her as a mother, and she created the 12-minute film during a long weekend in Texas with her husband.

“It’s amazing what a couple people can do when they utilize their talents to spread a message,” she said.

While filming, Smith said she learned the federal government’s definition of refugee has contributed to the high number of unaccompanied minor refugees.

“Refugee has to be someone escaping a time of war or disaster,” she said. “Until policy changes, the Red Cross can only provide so much because of that definition.”

Smith’s film focuses on the charities, specifically Sacred Heart Catholic Church in McAllen, Texas, which serves young people coming to the U.S. from some of the world’s most violent countries.

“A woman is murdered in Honduras every 13 hours,” Smith said. “Honduras is not larger than the state of Virginia. Yet we don’t hear about this because the media is picking and choosing what content they want us to hear.”

It’s important, Smith said, to incorporate the idea of emotional branding in both her work at Naissance and in her film.

“The difference between traditional branding and emotional branding is that it focuses on the human to human interaction,” she said. “Emotional branding is important to make the shift and help people connect with brands on an emotional level.”

Smith presented her 10 commandments for emotional branding, which include shifting the product to an experience so there is a deeper connection with the product.

Additionally, emotional branding provides a platform for dialogue instead of communication, Smith said.

“Communication is the process of telling, while dialogue creates a conversation and is more about sharing,” she said.

Smith said, “Designed to Care: Every heart deserves to be held. Every story deserves to be told” is her first pro bono film, but she hopes to create one each year.

According to Smith, Sacred Heart Catholic Church has helped more than 6,000 people by providing food and other basic human needs to young people and families seeking refuge in the U.S.; the church will use the film for fundraising in April.

Working on the film inspired Smith to help non-profits promote their work, using the short films for self-promotion and fundraising, she said.

“It’s important to look at how you [can] use your business skills outside of for-profit business,” Smith said. “You can volunteer your time and your skill set to set objectives of storytelling in business or personal relationships.”

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About Haleigh Ehmsen

A senior at Saint Mary's, Haleigh is majoring in Communication Studies and English Literature & Writing. She serves as the Saint Mary's editor and enjoys coffee, guacamole and good books.

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