Brands and the greater good

More and more people (myself included) are actively choosing brands that are doing good in the world. Brands that are giving back in some way, whether that be directly to mother nature, supporting local communities or simply creating recyclable packaging… They draw us closer, making us feel good about the brand and about ‘doing our bit’.

Recent events including the national lockdown, BLM movement and LGBTQ movement have accelerated the conscious consumer mindset. As a result, brands are being put under the spotlight more than ever to have a clear, authentic sense of purpose, beyond their growth agenda, that remains loyal to their customers.

Based by our recent brand research and a small self-funded research project conducted in February, we set out to identify some broad consumer-based themes. Here’s a snapshot of what we found:

Hard evidence (vs generic promises)

Initiatives supported with facts and evidence will score well with consumers. A good example is Kenco Coffee’s gang initiative. Gang violence is a major issue in Honduras and Kenco’s commitment to setting up localised coffee bean farms to encourage young men to turn away from gangs is tackling this issue head on. Kenco’s cause gives consumers tangible evidence of how their loyalty to the brand can truly make a difference.  Link: http://coffeevsgangs.telegraph.co.uk

Link to the brand

Initiatives that have an unmistakeable link to the brand are well received and remembered. Ikea embarked upon an initiative to provide robust, waterproof ‘flat pack’ shelters for refugees across the globe. This initiative has a clear and powerful link to the brand that not only gives consumers a warm feeling towards Ikea, but also a sense that they’re contributing to a good cause when shopping there. Link: https://bettershelter.org/

Involvement

Brand initiatives that require consumer participation do well, provided they have intrinsic values linked to the category. A good example of this is the clothing brand Lacoste’s initiative to replace their well-known ‘crocodile’ logo with a variety of endangered species on a limited-edition range of polo shirts. Consumers see this as a clever and fun way of raising awareness of the most at risk species and generates positive feelings towards Lacoste to boot. Link: https://iucnsos.org/initiative/lacoste-x-iucn-sos/

Differentiation

Above all else, brands need to work hard to stand out from the crowd with a unique idea, that goes beyond the generic.  BrewDog’s ‘negative carbon’ claim is a case in point. By planting trees and switching to wind powered breweries, BrewDog claims to take out twice as much carbon from the atmosphere than it generates. That’s not ‘carbon neutral’, but carbon negative. The claim clearly differentiates from others and does so in typical BrewDog style, giving consumers another reason to choose Brewdog vs an alternative beer brand.  Link: https://www.brewdog.com/uk/tomorrow

Brands that are resonating best with their consumers in this ever-changing world, are those that have a genuine altruistic purpose that’s well differentiated, involving for the consumer, and supported by evidence.   As issues such as sustainability become more of a ‘hygiene factor’, brands will need to work even harder to stand out and win favour. This can only be a good thing for us all.