By Leigh Ann Hubbard
This is maybe the most memorable branding idea ever.
But hang on. First, let’s talk about one of the most memorable founder stories ever.
For most of his life, people have tried to guess Bruce Felt’s ethnicity.
“People thought I was Mexican, Native American — various other ethnicities,” he says. Until he was in his mid-20s, he told people he was Heinz 57 — a secret blend. “I never knew.”
That’s because Bruce hadn’t seen his biological parents or siblings since he was a young child. And he had no photographs. No home video. Nothing to show him where he came from.
In a bit, you’ll learn how all that turned out. But fast-forwarding to today: Bruce now helps older people document and share their legacies. He helps them remember. He knows how profoundly that can open a heart.
When the Senior Living Foresight team learned about the simple way he’s doing this, we thought, there are so many opportunities here for senior living! Our imaginations got going. How about yours?
Legacy in a Box
Here’s the lowdown: Through his company Memories by Design (a Foresight partner), Bruce and his team have developed a product that lets older people carry their memories with them everywhere — and show them off.
It’s called PocketBook Memory.
It’s a personalized box about the size of a book. Open the cover, and inside, a video player reveals a life history through photos, videos, captions, and music. How precious is that? (You can see some samples here.)
The video can easily be played over and over, without an assistant. And it charges overnight, like a phone.
People can order PocketBook Memory for their loved ones, but it has so many possibilities for senior living! Here are a few:
- Reminiscence therapy (no bulky photo albums or difficult tech)
- Meet-and-greets with neighbors, promoting community, camaraderie, and kindness
- Get-to-know-yous with new caregivers, increasing empathy and bonding
- Group story hours (the video players can be hooked up to televisions — and played on larger screens)
- Closed-circuit TV airings
- Milestone-birthday gifts
- Holiday gifts
You could even create a series of activities around the product’s creation: Families could bring boxes of photos. The residents could choose their favorites and tell stories to be used for the video captions.
The Most Impactful Branding Ever?
Here’s where the branding comes in. To get your residents these legacy boxes, you simply become a sponsor.
- You’ll receive brochures and flyers to tell people about PocketBook Memory.
- Families can order directly through Memories by Design, requiring no work from your staff.
- You won’t be charged until an order goes through.
Every PocketBook Memory your residents receive will have your branding on it — inside and outside the box, and even in the video. So your brand will be constantly associated with warm fuzzies.
I was surprised to find out that the price for each PocketBook Memory is only $99. When you think about how much you spend on marketing and advertising, this is such a bargain — and the impact is long-term. You’re increasing loyalty, boosting the likelihood of referrals, and ensuring that those marketing dollars are doing some good!
And then there’s this: With the resident’s (or family’s) permission, you can share these beautiful videos on social media. Bruce says he’ll “happily” provide shorter, tightened-up, shareable versions for you upon request.
Back to the Founder’s Story
The story Bruce’s own PocketBook Memory can tell is both heartbreaking and heartwarming. At around age 26, he reconnected with his biological siblings and learned more about his background.
His father had been a U.S. soldier stationed in Japan. His mother was a Japanese citizen. Around 1959, they moved to the United States. But after a couple of years, his father was relocated to Korea. His mother was left to raise four children under 5. She spoke little English.
The kids ended up in foster care. “One by one, we were separated out,” Bruce says.
When he was 7, his first-grade teacher adopted him. “I ended up with a new family, and I’m very fortunate to have had that.”
He’s Japanese, Polish, and German.
“Everybody has a unique story,” Bruce says. “That’s something that I want to be able to help people share, because I have a certain pride now, of who I am and what my history is. To help celebrate a life story — a legacy — with somebody is powerful.”