Learn to Communicate Your Global Position Honestly and Successfully.
Brands have always had a purpose or objective they need to attain. In recent years, purpose-based marketing or communicating your goals as a brand through advertisements has become far more common. Your purpose is a north star, it determines why the brand exists and what it does every day. Every brand has the goal of making a profit, but younger people want to work for and purchase from companies that have clearly defined goals. The global economy is changing and brands must change along with it. In a Mediascope interview with Ellen Gunning, David Winterlich, chief strategy officer with Dentsu Ireland, is a proud supporter of businesses who do the right things for the right reasons “There are companies, that on principal, go out and try to do good in the world”.
Forty years ago consumers were unconcerned with what a company stood for. However, nowadays people look for brands that align with their personal values and avoid businesses that contradict their personal beliefs. Gunning believes that clearly vocalizing their goals and moral standing is becoming increasingly important for companies. The Body Shop is a perfect example of a company that used their purpose of offering environmentally sustainable products to gain a competitive edge.
Of course, with any ethical marketing strategy one must be cognizant of woke washing or insincerely exploiting moral issues for monetary gain. For example, a lot of companies change their logo to colors of the LGBTQ+ community flag during pride month, yet they fail to financially or emotionally support LGBTQ+ customers and employees. Dove did not claim to change the world when they launched a campaign offering more diverse and uplifting advertisements to consumers of beauty products. Dove’s branding is the perfect example of a company which puts its money where its mouth is and uses tangible action to voice support for a specific ethical endeavor.
It becomes a problem when a company is not founded with a helpful purpose, and then claims to have a positive vision later on. Particular niches should be unapologetically owned and operated by the companies that champion them. The role of a public relations professional is to help a company clearly define and own their objective in a given space. Customers will sniff out an insincere promotional strategy. Whether your purpose is to support diversity or champion economic quality, audiences desire a clear position from companies.
Virtue signaling is the act of claiming to support good behavior without supporting it through tangible actions. If a company claims to support the Black Lives Matter movement, they should have an ethnically diverse staff or the vocalization comes across as insincere. Consumers can see the difference between a brand which says it supports positive change and a brand which is taking the right steps towards a better world. What we say and what we do are two very different categories. The purpose of a brand has to be clearly stated in campaigns through both verbal expression and physical work.
“Character is what we do when no one is watching.”
Wall Street was once caught underpaying women and minorities after erecting a feminist statue claiming to support the empowerment of females. Real purpose does cost us something. If a brand claims to care about protecting the ocean they have to make an investment in biodegradable products and packaging that do save the earth. Social marketing should be done out of a genuine desire to make positive improvements. Consumers will act with their wallets, if your brand is perceived as hurting our world you will lose money.
“Character is what we do when no one is watching.” Companies that truly have a value driven purpose will take steps to insight positive change without exploiting it to become a marketing strategy. Purpose has to be in the DNA of the business. Be clear about what you want to do and why. There are a lot of opportunities for positive change in this world. It’s important that companies move towards ethical endeavors that make sense for their business model.
A fashion brand is far better suited to champion sustainable fabrics than to take on issues of domestic violence. Authenticity is the key to successfully marketing yourself as having a value driven purpose.