[PARTNER CONTENT] A human instinct exists to belong; to find your place in the world amongst those where you feel a sense of like-mindedness and camaraderie. Part of which can attract us towards others alike as a shared sense of belief and matching purpose; our ‘Moral Instinct’. This seems even more natural in a time of social upheaval.
The Moral Instinct, published by Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker, talks about another sixth sense, what he calls the moral sense – our ability to consider some questions as moral issues while others are addressed with the practicality of cost-benefit analysis.”
Purpose continues to be a strong talking point amongst societal segments and ever increasingly amongst brands and their supportive consumers. Kantar, in their latest MMA Webinar on Sustainability, is quoted saying, “Brands have always needed purpose – every brand needs to know why it exists. But today, purpose is used to describe a broader concept of brand positioning. It is no longer enough to stand out. A brand now must stand FOR something, which reflects the shifts in society toward social and environmental concerns, and how brands contribute to wider society.”
What is key is how a brand contributes to society, and the focus tends to lie with environmental and social concerns. Consumers are demanding more from their favourite brands. They’re evaluating a brand’s principles as much as its products and most critically are not afraid to vote with their feet, voices or their wallets when they encounter poorly executed or insincere purpose.
This leads us into the brand space of sustainable transformation and the critical understanding that brands need to achieve consumer buy-in, to avoid backlash.
The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs lists 17 Sustainable Development goals that require focus and support. Many brands are aligning to these goals in their pursuit of purpose, but we must keep in mind that the “HOW” and the “WHY” are equally as important as the “WHAT” in getting this right.
- Goals which cover the eradication of poverty and hunger
- Goals which promote healthcare, community safety and quality education
- Goals which focus on delivering sanitation and clean energy
- Goals which focus to protect our earth, our oceans and limit climate change
- Goals which focus to deliver inclusivity, justice, and gender equality
- Goals which serve to deliver economic stability and infrastructure growth
- Goals which focus on responsible production and consumption alike
It has never been more important, to have a purpose. It’s no longer enough to just look good or to be the brand everyone is talking about. You need to be the brand that everyone is talking about because you’re making the right impact, and that impact is largely focused on the environment, and on communities. We may ask why this is so critical, and it is because brands pose a role in influencing culture.
Climate Change tends to be the principle spoken of the most and world-wide governments are correctly cracking down to reduce emissions and carbon footprints, as well as brands looking for more environmentally friendly solutions to ingredients and production methods. Following the guidelines is simply not enough. It takes strong brands to independently stand up and stand for purpose to drive change.
Dentsu 2021 Sustainability Report: The Rise of Sustainable Media
- “77% of people in the research said that in five years’ time, they only want to be spending money with brands who are practicing green and sustainable advertising.”
- “91% of people questioned wanted brands to demonstrate they are making positive choices about the planet and environment more explicitly; in everything they do.”
- Key principles to deliver successful purpose:Be authentic with your efforts
Consumers can spot insincerity. Brands should focus on partnerships and activity that support their core brand values and business goals. Poorly executed purpose can result in public backlash leading your consumers to turn against you and vote with their feet, voices or wallets.
- Align your brand with a cause
Align with a cause or organization that’s close to your brand heart. It is not only important, but also socially responsible for brands to stand for something bigger.
- Be consistent and in for the long game
Avoid virtue short lived associations. Your brand level of engagement must increase over time. Short lived associations indicate trivial brand behaviour.
- Create shared experiences around your values
Action trumps transactional promises. The brands that win create shared experiences with those that engage.
- Accountability and work ethic matter
Accountability and work ethic are driving forces behind successful business and brand. By creating opportunity for others, especially ones that allow consumers self-improvement, you are inherently building an environment which will organically manifest itself in the social enterprise.
Brands getting it right
In 2020, ABInBev via Stella Artois launched the #ralleyforyourbar campaign.
The simple initiative, whilst staying true to the brands purpose of savoring life together, generated significant revenue for the food and beverage industry and directly gave back over R1million to bars and restaurants alike.
The campaign did not steer far from the brands natural focus of commerce, yet campaigns like these draw communities together, and consumers are comfortable to support them, as they demonstrate a level of sustainable ethics and in this particular case delivers category economic growth: UN Sustainable Goal #8.
Gender-based violence has become so pervasive, the numbers so numbing, that many inadvertently turn a blind eye. 1st For Women looked to position themselves as a leader in the fight against women abuse and, in this case, used the 16 days of activism window to do so.
From a messaging front, they projected onto Outdoor and released daily films as tributes to women who have passed at the hand of GBV, but they also gave consumers the chance to further support this powerful human cause by donating. This taps deeply into the UN Sustainable Goal #4 of gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls.
If you’d like to register or donate, please visit: //for-women.co.za/
The bottom line is that today brands should position themselves so that they stand for something, and they need to do so with long term intention and in a way that does not disappoint nor segregate large portions of their audiences. An insincere approach can do more damage that no approach at all.
*Partner content is sponsored.
Astrid Staegemann is the Integrated Client Lead at iProspect South Africa, with over 15 years industry experience in marketing, brand and media strategy. Case studies courtesy of FoxP2 and Vizeum South Africa.
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