Displaying items by tag: Brand Purpose

On 20 September 2019, Strike4Climate occurred across the globe. It was reported that over 6 million people worldwide, including over 300,000 people in Australia attended the strike.

This global strike movement is one of the largest ever seen across the world since the protests against the Iraq war in 2003, but it wasn’t just the sheer number of people that caught everyone’s attention, but also the vast number of organisations and brands that backed the cause.

To name a few, Patagonia, Ben&Jerry, Lush and Greenpeace were just some of the companies to align their brands with the cause, dedicating full pages on their websites to show their support. In an unprecedented alliance started by Australian company Future Super, together with Atlassian and KeepCup, called This is not Business as Usual, companies came together to pledge their support for worker participation in the climate strike. In just over a week, more than 2,800 companies across the nation joined the pledge.

This kind of support and public display of brand purpose is becoming more common among successful brands. There have been many that have led the way, and now others are redefining themselves with clear purpose and focus.

In fact, the heat from climate change is becoming a reality that brands cannot ignore. The pressure for businesses to act responsibly is stronger than ever - consumers are moving to support brands that take a stand. The pressure is coming thick and fast, not solely from consumers but also from regulators, employees, investors and shareholders.

Brands now need to be seen as responsible global citizens. A recent Garner report stated that “Employees, in particular, millennials are seeking to have a socially meaningful impact through work that aligns with their own values.”

The global market research company, Forrester has reported on the impact of climate change and how it is altering the world of business.

“Today, consumers explicitly consider factors such as company values and commitment to certain causes or beliefs when choosing brands to associate with or products to buy.”

Source: Forrester

There is definitely a recipe for success when it comes to the brands positively presenting themselves as a champion for climate change action. Brands must practice what they preach - they cannot simply advertise the fact. Brands must articulate their values throughout their brand strategy, brand story and communications.

In a previous blog, we highlighted some brands who are successfully incorporating sustainability into their brand values. These included:

  1. IceBreaker. Not only are their products living up to their promise, but they also commit to sustainable agriculture. They use merino wool from New Zealand and promise that the wool can be traced back to the farm it came from. They have created a sustainable business model that is built to support the farmers and is based on genuine trust and mutual concern for animal welfare and protection of the natural environment.
  2. Le Creuset. Quality and longevity of the product is what makes this brand stand out from a sustainability viewpoint. For almost 100 years, their brand promise has come with a lifetime warranty with a focus on building products that last, rather than throw-away short-lifecycle products.
  3. Who Gives A Crap toilet paper. Not only is the product and packaging made from environmentally friendly material, but the company also donates 50% of its profits to help build toilets for those in need.
  4. Sukin is an Australian, all-natural skincare brand. Their promise is - “what we leave out is what makes us special.” Their products are made of all-natural ingredients and no chemicals. 

The questions being asked, what does it mean to be sustainable; what do brands need to do in order to ensure consumers trust and value their contribution to environmental causes, in order to support them? Brands need to look at all angles, consider all options and put the planet on their agenda.

Business Insider recently interviewed four Australian brands who are weaving sustainability into their values in unique ways that resonate with their brand positioning. One example listed was Future Super.

“We won’t invest super into coal, oil or gas — leading sources of climate change — as well as any banks that finance fossil fuels, and companies that provide polluters with essential services,”
Kirstin Hunter, Managing Director of Future Super.

Many brands are coming up with unique ways to incorporate sustainability in their brand. Some of the initiatives that brands are committing to include:

1. Eliminating single-use plastics
2. Recycling programs in the workplace
3. Investing in biodegradable and earth-friendly packaging
4. Eliminating the use of chemicals in the workplace or in production processes
5. Reducing energy and water consumption
6. Ensuring environmentally friendly waste management systems
7. Measuring carbon footprint and offsetting carbon
8. Developing a climate action plan
9. Setting emissions targets
10. Initiating corporate social responsibility programs

This list is not exhaustive; ideally brands need to find the right initiative that will fit within their brand narrative - and be authentically and honestly executed. If companies fear that implementing these sustainability initiatives is going to be costly and impact negatively on their bottom line - they need to think of the alternative, and that is that climate change will damage economies, reduce the availability of finite resources and increase the cost of doing business. So it is for both business and humanitarian reasons, that companies of all sizes take action.

The below model graphically depicts the relationship between sustainability and profit. When implemented well, it will have a positive effect on market share and profits.

Sustainability Profit Relationship Model

 

 

Source: Sustainability-Profitability Relationship Model

Climate action offers companies the chance to connect with consumers in a way that demonstrates a common goal. It provides an opportunity for brands to weave this message into their brand story and communications.

It is not only customers who will support brands who actively and authentically weave sustainability into their values. This year's Edelman's Trust Barometer showed us how employees are relying more and more on their employers to lead the way on social responsibility, and with this comes the power to act on important political issues, such as the environment and its preservation. Brand purpose and aligning your brand to employees' values is becoming increasingly more important in winning the war on talent.

It is undeniably evident that brands have the power to move individuals towards positive change, in fact, some of the most successful brands have even managed to start the movement. Consumers will choose a brand they resonate with, a brand they feel represents their views. BrandMatters specialises in brand strategy; finding the right approach to incorporating sustainability into your brand strategy is imperative, and this is something we can help you uncover.

Contact us

 

Additional resources on this subject:

https://www.notbusinessasusual.co/

http://theconversation.com/climate-change-focusing-on-how-individuals-can-help-is-very-convenient-for-corporations-108546

https://www.adnews.com.au/news/the-climate-games-the-advertising-industry-pressured-from-all-directions#Cbz4yusgzhL6TxfT.99

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/body-shop-issues-call-action-160400989.html

https://www.forbes.com/sites/simonmainwaring/2018/10/25/why-and-how-business-must-tackle-climate-change-now/#a945d064712b

https://www.businessinsider.com.au/4-aussie-businesses-share-what-theyre-doing-to-fight-climate-change-on-a-day-to-day-basis-2019-9

 

What does it mean for a brand to be authentic? It has a lot to do with ethical behaviour but mostly it should be about telling the truth and demonstrating your commitment to this truth. Consumers are seeking out brands that do more than just talking about how great they are, they are looking for proof that the brand is willing and able to practise what they preach. It is increasingly vital that brands rise up to this challenge and prove to consumers they intend to live up to their brand promise.

Authenticity is not something you can create via a campaign. It needs to be demonstrated across every touch point and every moment the brand interacts with the consumer. Most importantly it needs to be true - not just a gimmick. Consumers are savvy and their expectations are high. According to last year’s Edelman Trust Barometer, the expectation on CEOs to step up and lead change was up to a record high of 65%. CEOs and CMOs can achieve this by working together to put brand purpose front and centre of the organisation.

Not only are consumers seeking out and choosing to support authentic brands, they are also actively calling out inauthentic brands (mainly via social media). The speed at which disapproval can spread is rapid, and the digital footprint left is extremely hard to reverse or repair.

As a brand strategy agency, BrandMatters work with brands big and small, established or start-up, to develop an authentic brand narrative and positioning. A brand’s story needs to be rooted in the brand vision and needs to ensure it addresses the target audience in a way that resonates with them and makes them believe the brand truly understands their needs.

In this time of disruptors and game-changers, no market, industry and category is safe from being called out or completely alienated by consumers. In the wake of the banking royal commission - a recent Roy Morgan Report indicated that 1.3 million Australians are considering opening new bank accounts in the next 6 months. In an industry where the hassle often outweighs the motivation, this number is staggering. ING and Bank Australia are two examples of financial services brands who have stepped up with a message that targets these consumers and are demonstrating how brands, even banks, can be good, ethical and authentic.

How can brands demonstrate their authenticity

Customer centricity 

Putting the customer first. This shouldn’t be a new concept, but for certain industries, complacency has taken over - performance has been measured by profits and dividends alone. This view is incredibly short sighted. Brands need to put their customers first if they want to survive long term. 

Longevity and consistency

Brands need to stick to their guns. Once they have developed and articulated their brand position and brand values, they need to find ways to communicate and demonstrate these values. Examples such as Nike, Lego and closer to home Qantas are legacy brands who have consistently demonstrated their values. They have managed to stay relevant and consumers appreciate this consistency because trust has been developed and consumers know what to expect from these brands.

It doesn’t mean that they can’t change, adapt or innovate - but when they do it must be in a way that is in-keeping with their brand position and brand values.

Purpose before profit

In the past, CEOs and CFOs have been told to put the shareholder first. Now, even their largest stakeholders are challenging this, and realising that ethics and sustainability needs to be part of the equation.

Many brands and organisations have implemented a corporate social responsibility policy (CSR), and actively support a charity or support the community in some way, shape or form. The main issue with CSR is it is often seen as a side responsibility that comes after profits. The values that lead to a CSR policy should be shifted over to become part of the brand values rather than a side project.

Brand research

Brands who care about what their customers are thinking and feeling will engage in brand research or brand tracking. Asking for feedback and continually improving based on the feedback will help brands keep a pulse on the market and the needs of their target audience. It inevitably will help them make decisions about the future of the brand and how to stay relevant. NPS is a great way to measure consumer sentiment. Simply put, understanding the likelihood of your customers recommending your brand is a great benchmark of your brand equity and customer satisfaction.

Many businesses have adopted the Net-Promoter Score as their dipping stick into customer satisfaction - if they see the levels change, this can trigger some more intensive investigation or research and lead to changes in the brand strategy.

Examples of brands that have succeeded in demonstrating their authenticity

Airbnb

Airbnb’s brand positioning is ‘belong anywhere’. The idea behind Airbnb (people essentially opening their homes for strangers to share) was incredibly reliant on building trust. More importantly, the trust needed to be two-way. The owner of the property (host) needed to trust the customer (guest) and the guest needed to trust that the offering from the host was authentic and genuine.         

To many, this seemed like an impossible level of trust and convincing people would be no simple task. Airbnb demonstrated their authenticity by implementing a system of support, connection and safety.

Further to this, they are continually standing up and shouting out about the things they value and believe in. Examples of this were their support for marriage equality and also their protest of the Trump travel ban with their campaign #weaccept. Not only did support for these issues align to their brand, but the message of acceptance is one that underpins the trust they have built in their community (both guests and hosts). Airbnb’s entire business model relies on establishing this trust, building relationships between strangers, which is essentially what every brand needs to do.

Bank Australia 

When reading Bank Australia’s vision and values you may well disbelieve it. Bank Australia was established in 1957, originally as the CSIRO Co-operative Credit Union. In 2015 it was renamed Bank Australia and continues its’ focus on ethical and sustainable banking - which is 100% owned by its’ customers.

The timing of the launch of their recent campaign was precise and resonated immediately with consumers who had lost faith in the traditional banks and were looking for a better alternative.

The campaign highlights how the brand is turning its values into action - for example by only investing in renewable energy and affordable housing solutions and not investing in fossil fuels.

 

Trust is earned through authentic interactions

At BrandMatters, we believe relationships matter, a positive relationship between your brand and your customer is fundamental to success. In a world where consumers are bombarded with choice, as a brand, you need to stand for something - otherwise, the consumer choice has no critical path and will end up being about price. Living and breathing your brand values (both internally and externally) will help you develop a strong bond with like-minded customers.

Creating buy-in from your employees - who in turn will become brand ambassadors - is a great first step (read more in our recent blog employers guide to re-building trust in a disillusioned world). Living your brand values internally - with a strong employee value proposition - is a great way to establish how strongly it resonates and will result in your employees becoming strong brand advocates, working from the inside out.

Starting with a strong set of principles, we can help you develop and articulate your brand’s purpose, and most importantly provide the tools to bring this purpose to life through authentic interactions with your customers.