Creating brands without compromise14/05/19
Ten years ago, a certain kind of consumer was willing to pay over the odds for a lower-rate product simply because the brand was worthy. Wrapped in recycled paper packaging with a Fairtrade logo stamped on the front, the product might not taste as good or offer the same health benefits as a less eco-friendly alternative but at least you were saving the planet. And this was enough for most socially-conscious consumers.
Today, this isn’t the case. Contemporary consumers want a snack that is healthy, tasty and doesn’t have a negative impact on the environment. They want nappies that don’t leak but also don’t take 400 years to biodegrade. They’re not willing to compromise.
Bringing together product and cause
As a result, the brands that are currently finding favour are those for whom product and purpose are intertwined. These brands hold an eco or social purpose at their heart which extends beyond their visual and verbal identity. It impacts every moment of the brand and product journey, while still delivering on product efficacy.
Whether a brand that rescues leftover and unwanted bread and uses it to make great-tasting beer like Toast, or Change Please, coffee that empowers homeless communities through barista training. This bringing together of product and cause extends across all categories and brand touchpoints.
At the same time, brands with little or no ethical purpose are jumping on the bandwagon. Desperately trying to attach a worthy cause to their product and crowbar a contemporary viewpoint into their philosophy.
So, when everyone is shouting about their ‘worthy’ qualities – and some aren’t actually seeing them through – how can brands clearly communicate their commitment to both product and purpose?
Communicating your brand credentials
Synergy between product and purpose: The most successful brands are those where the product and purpose are one. Where the product wouldn’t exist if there wasn’t a problem to solve. Take SNACT, a healthy snacks brand that rescues unwanted fruit (4.4 million apples and 1.4 million bananas are thrown away in the UK alone every day) and transforms it into fruit jerkies and banana bars. If you took away the issue of fruit waste, they wouldn’t exist; but if you didn’t know they were tackling this global problem, the snacks still taste great.
Different channels for different messages: Modern brands have a huge arsenal of channels through which they can communicate with consumers, and when you’re both purposeful and have a great product, it’s important to understand which messages to place where. Packaging remains a fundamental part of the brand toolkit and a strong platform for conveying key brand values. But for brands with a purposeful story to tell, physical environments, apps and social media engagement enable a deeper connection and opportunity for more creative storytelling.
Better no purpose than a fake purpose: Armed with instant access to a wealth of online information, it takes seconds for consumers to see through a fake brand purpose. They want real, authentic brands that can clearly demonstrate the need they are meeting and their reason for being. Purpose is understood as having a sustainable or social impact on the world and in many cases this is true, but it can sometimes be as simple as saying ‘we’re passionate about making the best product we can’. And for today’s consumer, this is often enough to create a connection.
Be agile, innovative and willing to listen
This bringing together of product and cause reflects a much wider macro shift in consumer behaviour which has seen the power balance fall firmly into the hands of consumers. Where once brands decided what we bought and how, today’s consumer is more empowered than ever. They actively engage with brands through digital media and set the context for brands to respond to – not the other way around.
For the right brands, this presents a strong opportunity. If you’re agile, innovative and willing to listen, this consumer input is priceless. Similarly, if you’re brave enough to change the way things have been done before for the better, you really can be a brand that matters.
By Lisa Desforges, Strategy Director at B&B. Originally published in MinuteHack