In 2021, if there's a surefire way for brands to fit their way into the conversation, it's showcasing sincerity and trustworthy ethics. This means that companies and organizations should put in the work to finely tune their mission statement and figure out how they can meet the needs of consumers while leaving a positive impact and being committed to social change. In turn, marketing plans should focus on being real, not perfect, by sharing insightful and educational content.
One of the many perks of value-driven branding and marketing is customer loyalty. Conscious consumers are more willing to be loyal to brands they feel align with their core values, even if they're on a budget. (Zeno's Strength of Purpose Study states when consumers feel as though brands have a strong purpose, they are 4.5 times more likely to recommend the company and products to friends and family.) More and more brands are feeling a moral responsibility towards their audience to advocate for causes they truly believe in.
With the rising popularity of social media influencers over the past few years, brands have utilized popular Instagrammers and TikTokkers to target Millenials and Gen Zers. Brands are collaborating with influences to help them champion for certain causes or raise awareness on certain issues. In addition, these younger populations generally hold companies to higher standards regarding social and political issues - they want to invest and spend responsibly. Some of the values that matter are sustainability, ocean protection, inclusivity, LGBTQ rights, and animal rights.
According to Engage For Good, 65% of Americans say when a company takes a stand on an issue, they will do research to see if it’s being authentic and 76% say a company’s marketing and advertising should be more reflective of the diverse and inclusive business they aspire to be. The stories showcased on social media should inspire audiences while also proudly showcasing an organization's impact in communities and celebrating success stories.
However, social media and marketing initiatives can't be used to promote empty promises, the real work is done in the ideation stage of business building. Companies have to ask themselves "what do we stand for?", "how do we fit in social justice conversations?", "how can we leave an emotional impact on our audience?"
Here are some examples of purpose-driven branding:
Whole Foods - Launched the "Values Matter" campaign to showcase their ethics and highlight the company's devotion to food consciousness, sustainability, and organic groceries, created the "Sourced for Good" program to help support workers, communities, and environmental stewardship where their products are sourced
Under Armour - Made sponsorship deals with up-and-coming female athletes, launched the inspiring "I Will What I Want" campaign starring ballerina Misty Copeland which transformed their female marketing strategy, developed a line with Stephen Curry to commemorate Black History Month and pay tribute to the historical contributions made by African Americans
American Eagle - Stopped using Photoshopped images of models with unachievable body types, debuted "The Pride Collection" with 100% of proceeds going to an LGBTQ organization, formed the #AExME Council to allow a group of Gen Zers to do creative takeovers