According to The Guardian, it’s no longer enough for brands to just deliver a good product and be trustworthy. Consumers want brands to represent something bigger than themselves.
According to Edelman’s Brandshare report 87% of respondents around the world say they want a “meaningful relationship” with brands. Harvard Business Review found that only 23% of consumers feel that they have one. If your customer feels they have no real connection to your company, they will move on to a competitor. It’s inevitable.
So what makes a brand really significant? The suggestion is that it’s the ones that are conscious of their impact and run by people with belief in a greater purpose – be it social or ecological. These are brands that want to generate “loyalty beyond reason” and ultimately, beyond profits.
HOW CAN THIS BE ACHIEVED?
A) DO GOOD
Today, corporate social responsibility (CSR) campaigns have become an essential marketing tool. Brands have come to realise that they can kill two birds with one stone by making our lives easier and the world a better place. Think: household coffee company Kenco launched a campaign called Coffee versus Gangs, taking on gang culture in Honduras. This initiative was geared towards providing coffee farmer training to young people, helping to keep them out of the gangs that blight Honduran society. Or, Toms, the fashionable footwear company, showed style does not have to be without substance: the company announced for every pair of shoes bought it would donate a new pair to a child in need. Recently it went a step further by launching an eyewear range that operates in the same vein: for each pair of glasses sold, eyecare will be provided for those most in need.
B) BE SINCERE
It’s necessary for a brand to have a purpose more engaging than profits, but any old cause won’t do. The cause should be rooted in the brand, it should make sense to customers and it should have a practical, shareable outcome. Employee engagement can be difficult to inspire and consumers are quick to judge and slow to forget if they believe a campaign to be disingenuous. Social media has inevitably become the best litmus test for CSR campaigns so make use of it. If the cause is the right one and approached the right way, employees and customers will share it, reinforcing the brand and the message every time.
It’s also worth noting that while globally significant good-cause campaigns can have immense impact on brand perception, smaller, more tactical efforts can be just as powerful on social media. Oasis and UPS are two examples of companies that took this quick-win digital approach – the first with their #springasmile campaign and the latter with Your Wishes Delivered. Oasis invited consumers on their social channels to spin the wheel and do a randomly generated good deed, before inviting three friends to do the same. UPS encouraged their American customers to tweet “wishes” at them and then delivered gifts to customers in need.