Tag: brand content

The “Brand purpose” bandwagon – what is it, and should your business jump on it?


As businesses strive to engage with customers in more meaningful and impactful ways, the past few years have seen an increase in brands focusing on “brand purpose.” As an area of marketing strategy designed to grow a brand, its aim is usually to appeal to an audience who believe a company should stand for more than just its products or services.

What is brand purpose?

In simple terms, brand purpose, or “purpose-driven marketing”, is a way for a business to form a relationship with a target audience based on their shared needs and interests – including supporting a worthy cause.

This is not as simple as brands getting behind a cause they think their audience are interested in, but demonstrating how the company’s values and beliefs are also aligned with those causes.

Successful examples of this could be anything from flat-pack giant IKEA’s commitment to more sustainable product packaging by 2020, to outdoor clothing brand Patagonia donating 1% of sales revenue to the preservation and restoration of natural environments.

Why would a brand adopt a purpose?

So why would brands go down this route? Is the the pool of passive consumers dwindling? Can greater brand loyalty be achieved through aligning marketing messages with a particular set of values? What are the benefits for brands focusing on promoting brand purpose as part of their marketing strategy, you might ask?

One key benefit is to grow the brand’s reach to a new audience who may not have heard of, or wanted to buy from, that particular brand previously. If a brand is strongly supporting a cause the consumer also feels passionately about, there is potential to build a strong relationship with that audience.

When is adopting a brand purpose the right strategy?

Brand purpose initiatives have the potential to tap into new audiences, increase brand loyalty and increase customer retention amongst existing audiences.

So how can you tell if launching a brand purpose initiative is the right way for your business to go – and if the timing is right?

Here is what you need to ask yourself:

  1. What objectives does this marketing strategy need to achieve based on your market offering and target audience?
  2. How does the strategy coherently direct your resource in order to achieve these objectives?
  3. What are the tactics needed to successfully execute this?

Many businesses have successfully identified and implemented the above three steps. For example, The Body Shop’s brand purpose was to commit to ‘enriching its people, products and the planet’.

They did so by setting clear, measurable objectives:

  1. Help 40,000 economically vulnerable people access work around the world.
  2. Ensure 100 percent of their natural ingredients are traceable and sustainably sourced, protecting 10,000 hectares of forest and other habitat.
  3. Build bio-bridges, protecting and regenerating 75 million square meters of habitat helping communities to live more sustainably.

What success looks like

In the case of The Body Shop, they don’t commit to achieving too many objectives, but the ones they have are clearly aligned to their customers’ perception of the company and products.

The Body Shop communicates this to its supporters on a daily basis, pushing messages out via mobile and updating till points with the latest fundraising targets. As head of global campaigns at The Body Shop, Jessie Macneil-Brown, says, their brand purpose efforts make it “clear and quantifiable to consumers how each campaign is driving social change.”

However, as with most marketing strategy, the end goal is typically focused on growing revenue -it’s why more and more brands are exploring this avenue of marketing strategy. For The Body Shop, the return to the company’s activist roots was (at least partially) commercially motivated, coming off the back of a slump in sales. And the key to brand purpose success is to ensure the alignment with a cause doesn’t come off as a blatant money-grabbing exercise.

Unfortunately, for every brand purpose marketing campaign that gets this part right, there have been many that don’t hit the mark…

When brand purpose goes bad

Many recent brand purpose initiatives to make the news have proven that even the biggest companies can get it wrong when the tactics aren’t aligned to a strategy, and the strategy isn’t aligned to relevant business objectives. In fact, many failed brand purpose strategies have opened businesses up to harassment, ridicule, and negative publicity.

Notable recent failures include Pepsi trying to solve global disharmony, Starbucks aiming to remove racial tension, Heineken hoping to break down the barriers between transgender people and their critics, or most recently, cosmetic brand Lush targeting the police and shaming them for their infiltration of activists between 1968 and 2008.

As prominent marketer Mark Ritson suggests “Consumers do not want brands to be evil, but they also do not want them to posture about purpose. People are not morons, they can smell the hypocrisy of taking up a purpose while ultimately pushing it for commercial benefit”.

And as European marketing director at Patagonia Alex Weller recently said:

You can’t reverse into a mission and values through marketing. The organisations that are struggling with this are probably the ones that are thinking about marketing first. The role of marketing is to authentically elevate that mission and purpose and engage people in it, but the purpose needs to be the business.

Therefore if customer retention, audience growth, brand loyalty, and revenue growth are your business objectives, there are many other strategies to achieve this, in the event brand purpose isn’t a clear avenue to pursue at this stage.

Tapping into new audiences via an improved keyword strategy, building customer retention through engaging content or growing revenue from your existing audience through conversion rate optimisation are all areas the team at CandidSky excel in, so why not get in touch today and see how we can help you maximise your marketing strategy.

Rio 2016 – content marketing in the face of adversity

Doping scandals, economic protests, the Zika virus, failing infrastructure, water pollution…

All of these issues (and a green pool thrown in for good measure) combine to make Rio 2016 the most controversial Olympic Games in recent memory.

Of course, trouble at the Olympics is by no means a new thing but the host city this time around seems fraught with issues that have come under scrutiny from all angles, particularly from its own people. A great number of the population openly view the myriad problems in Rio as a microcosm for the nation as a whole – and they’re making their feelings known.

Legacy under pressure

While we are not here to pass any judgment on the organisation of the event, it’s clear that the Brazilian Olympic Committee is in an unenviable spot and has been for the past few years. For every problem that crops up in the press our ingrained perception of the Olympic brand takes another disreputable hit.

The ideals of undying commitment, sportsmanship and social unity could be said to be largely at odds with the way things have been going so far.

For both organisers and sponsors alike, getting the true voice of the Olympics to cut across the boos and whistles isn’t exactly a cakewalk. Nevermind turning the stadium music volume up; how can you possibly maintain, if not strengthen, the legacy of the Olympics in light of so much disruption?

This is what is really interesting from a content marketing perspective.

The ‘Brand Content Olympics’

First bear in mind that, in addition to the main Olympic brand, there are literally hundreds of satellite sponsors who are looking to run content marketing campaigns to reinforce Olympic values alongside their product or service.

Piercing through the controversy with strong emotional messages is equally important for these businesses. The content landscape has become so competitive and diversified in recent years that we now have a greater focus on incredibly personal, heart-tugging brand content than ever before.

So here we are. The ‘Content Olympics’. There is no better tactic for businesses looking to advertise what they do at this year’s Olympics than emphasising the hard work, determination and, above all, the personal story of how world class athletes got to be where they are today.

The best* example of Olympic content marketing

*Probably.

It’s no surprise that companies like Procter & Gamble – one of the biggest spenders on advertising worldwide – do it better than anyone else. Their ‘Thank You, Mom’ campaign is incredibly clever because it switches the focus of a global audience away from all those organisational problems to the journey of athletes who have worked their entire life towards becoming the best in the world…

When you consider that many people on the planet either have a mother, are a mother, or both, what you get is a incredibly moving advert that goes a long way to justifying why we have an Olympic Games in the first place. Tissue, anyone?

Even smarter is the way they turn the very concept of adversity into a positive force, giving their audience a sense that any problem (organisational or otherwise) can be overcome with sheer will and determination. 

Final thought

You don’t have to be a business the size of P&G to start enjoying the benefits of emotional content marketing. It starts by thinking about every step of your service, plotting the journey of a product and recognising what the emotional ties are to your business, whether it’s laughter or tears.

As the Olympics shows us, brand content is vital for any business looking to reinforce their brand identity and get key messages across to a wide audience, especially in the face of enormous adversity. For this there is no better method than a powerful, carefully crafted content strategy that hits you right between the eyes.