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Purpose is more than a statement: How brands need to act in 2018.

Purpose is more than a statement: How brands need to act in 2018.

For so long now, advertising agencies’ solution to selling brands has been to create a one sided communication with a heavy media spend behind it and expect that a customer will buy into the brand. But according to the results of the Havas’s 2017 meaningful brand report, over half of the world’s brands aren’t trusted and customers claim they wouldn't care if 74% of their brands disappeared completely. Scary right?

But don't panic just yet. Our evaluation is, you need to lead with purpose. Yes, I’m sure it’s not the first time you’ve heard that buzzword being throw about but the truth is to stay relevant and trusted in today’s world brands need to start walking the walk as well as talking the talk. 

Brands need to find a way to live and breathe their values and integrate that into their both internal culture and through their customer journey. Every touch point you have with your audience should be an opportunity to communicate why your existence matters and enable them to actively participate with your brand. Brands that fail to do so run the risk of falling behind or worse still burning out. 

 

The Cultural Shift

Brands are failing to emotionally engage: The statistics from the Havas report highlight just how disposable brands are becoming and with the combination of businesses not having a clear mission or fulfilling their promises there’s no surprise we’re seeing such alarming results. In the Drum’s brand engagement research last year they found that 78% of people feel brands never emotionally connect with them. It appears to rush to create quantity over quality content, has led to brands failing to focus on their true values which has consequently led to failure to connect. And with Facebook and Google now changing their algorithms to favour “valuable content” there has never been a more important a time to communicate why your brand is irreplaceable.

We’re living through a movement era: Whether it was down to Trump, leaving the EU or the rise in sexual harassment complaints, the consumer mindset has never been so passionate about change. In fact, Fast Company released research that showed for 61% of millennials, it’s their goal to make change in the world. Change of course doesn’t have to be socially or politically driven, brands that provide an opportunity for customers to participate in something bigger than themselves will be the brands that form long standing communities.

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It’s not just external purpose, it’s internal too: It doesn't stop with customers, employment expectations continue to show that your staff want more than money, they want a purpose. According to Kin&Co’s latest report How to avoid fucking up purpose their research showed that over two-thirds of workers said having a purpose that was properly embedded into their culture would have a positive impact on their work; including being more productive, more efficient and more likely to contribute to the company culture. And unsurprisingly 72% said they’d be more likely to stay at their company if they were more emotionally connected to their work. So not only is there a want for businesses to reflect the values of their staff, but there are results to show it does actually improve work place productivity.  As Simon Sinek states, businesses who live and breathe their vision will be the ones that don't just give employees something to work on but something to work towards

 

The early adopters

It’s started with 'Think Different….'

Don’t worry, I’m not going to create a case study article about the success of Apple because lets face it you’d have to be hidden under a rock to have missed that empire evolve. But the one thing we will highlight is there has never been a minute of doubt of what they stand for. Their consistent reinforcement of 'Think Different' has always been apparent in everything they do, making it both unavoidable and a definitive staple of Apple’s brand. From their emotive TV communications right through to their in-store Apple geeks, their beliefs have remained true throughout their evolution and is a case study to purpose led brand success.

Brands that we see echoing this are Dove with their Real Beauty mission, AirBnB’s Belong Everywhere and newer brands like Toms and Karma Cola who integrate their purpose into all areas of the business. Take the Toms 'One for One' movement, their mission to help people in need didn't just depend on customer purchasing and barefoot selfies, it was embedded in their internal culture too. As part of their Tomorrows Project program, every month employees are invited to submit ideas for a charitable project that inspires them. The company then votes and the person with the winning idea receives $10,000 and two days off work to make it happen. Pretty amazing right? The program encapsulates both what the brand stands for and what they are working towards.

And it’s not just B2C brands that have establishing discovered their purpose leads business success, B2B brands like E&Y have put a strong focus on “building a better working world” by providing industry leading research, thought leadership events and tailored training to improve workplace performances. Whilst instant messaging software Slack is a testament that when you define your brand as an enabler to bringing a workforce together, you can turn a tool that has been available for years and that sits in a heavily saturated market into a multi-billion pound company and an everyday essential to all industries. 

All examples have very different agendas but their passion for achieving their vision is consistent and more importantly accessible. Creating a strong product is key to all of these brands, but the difference in components these days, is providing an opportunity for people to take part in the brand passed purchase. The ability to identify and tap into the values and beliefs of an unformed movement is where brands will see the biggest opportunities in the future. 

 

Late bloomers

Even legacy brands with years of heritage need to find a way to stay relevant in today’s world. Take Hellmanns for example, despite being a market leader and having 100 years under their belt, their concern of being considered as the fatty condiment in the cupboard is what drove them to rediscover their purpose. Recognising their magic formula was real, simple ingredients they begun their “Real Food” movement - Hellmann’s commitment to helping Canadians discover the pleasure that comes from eating real food with simple ingredients. To do this, they created an Urban Gardens program to give Canadians a place to grow their own real food, developed the Real Food Grants program that helped fund over 40 real food initiatives across the country and used influencers to foster Hellmann’s brand advocacy inside the real food conversation. Through a mixture of education and interactive experiences the brand continues to champion real food initiatives across the country and change a longstanding perception of the brand. 

Proof it works

Does it work I hear you ask? Of course it does. According to Unilever, purpose driven brands are the driving force behind it’s success, reporting that its Sustainable Living brands grew over 50% faster than the rest of the business. And when Hellmann’s reviewed the success of its purpose-driven efforts, in addition to shifting consumer perception around mayonnaise, they saw a substantial and direct impact on sales of Hellmann’s in Canada. 

With research confirming that meaningful brands are outperforming the stock market by 206% over a ten-year period, it’s no surprise we’re seeing industry leaders like McVities and Cadbury reassessing their current positioning for a more purpose led perspective to re-engage with its audience in new times.

The time is now for brands to find what they truly stand for and focus more on how they can involve the customer along the way. 

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What’s next? 

The most important thing to remember is purpose is more than a statement. It’s something you genuinely believe in, identify with and action upon. 

So what do you need to do next? First things first, you go back to the drawing board and remind yourself, why you started. When you’ve identified this internally, you need to ensure that your purpose is going to resonate with your new or existing customers, there’s nothing worse than getting it terribly wrong (cue that Pepsi ad). Then, and arguably the most important part to the process you need plan the best way to communicate your vision to be relevant and authentic. 

And don’t just take our word for it we’re hosting our “Build a Brand Movement” event on the 7th of March at Camden Work.Life where we will be hearing first hand from Bacardi Global Brand Director Zeenah Vilcassim, Virgin Money Creative Director Tim Arthur and Founder of MyFreda Affi Parvizi-Wayne who are building brands with purpose. Book your free ticket here.

 

Stefanie Sword Williams, Senior Content Producer at Mattr.Media.

 

 

 

Have we lost the true meaning of Christmas in TV advertising?

Have we lost the true meaning of Christmas in TV advertising?

With Christmas just under a week away, it’s safe to say the festive season is well and truly upon us. Gingerbread lattes in every commuters hands, mince pies on every supermarket shelf and of course the sub zero temperatures sending us into Saturday night hibernation. But when it comes to Christmas, nothing quite gets you in the mood like the “Holidays are coming” jingle or the beloved John Lewis 60 second spot. 

And whilst we can always rely on the big brands to pull out the stops and captivate us with a heartwarming visual masterpiece, it’s hard not to pose the question, have we lost the true meaning of Christmas in TV advertising? I ask because my understanding is that Christmas is all about giving. So if we’re going to take one calendar event in the year to focus on making our marketing budget work the hardest and “giving back” surely it would be Christmas? Particularly in an era where we crave authenticity and have much higher expectations of what a brand should say and do. Yet year on year we huge amounts of money being thrown at fictional concepts that have no deeper purpose than to drive sales. The question we as both marketers and creative thinkers need to ask is, could we be spending an £8bn budget on a real concept that could change lives? Could we make Christmas the “goodvertising” time of the year?

Last month the ASA forecasted that brands will be spending a record of £6bn on Christmas advertising in 2017, mainly driven by the intense market competition, particularly in the retail sector. It was commented by Craig Mawdsley at AMVVBDO that brands have to participate if not for their own growth to offset the growth of others (BBC 2017). So surely if your aim is to offset the growth of competitors, your creative ideas should be especially disruptive? But when you review the selection of this year’s adverts there seems to be a consistent of pattern of fictional stories, both animated and moving image with a very expected Christmas storyline. Now you can't argue that the production and the sentiment behind the adverts from John Lewis, the BBC, Vodafone and McDonalds aren’t all of high quality but my biggest frustration is the lack of differentiation. How are these brands going to offset the growth of each other if they are just regurgitating the same type of solution? 

More and more we see meaningful brands and communications outperforming the big dogs because they recognise the value on focussing on the bigger picture. A Christmas campaign that we loved last year was the Gift of Beauty from Boots, the TV advert saw 45 real women who work in a range of professions from paramedics to midwives to police officers and carers, being treated to a day of pampering in order to recognise all the hard work they put in during the festive period. Why did we love this? Because Boots found an insight that celebrated real people and wasn’t solely about getting people in stores, it was about giving back whilst still creating that warm fuzzy feeling we know our viewers love. 

So what if, next year brands pushed their advertising agencies to think deeper about the spirit of Christmas, and they demanded ideas that really disrupted. Now I don’t mean a two headed Cyclops in a war zone pretending to be Santa, I mean an advert that when you’re sitting through the X-factor ad break you feel genuinely taken back by what’s in front of your eyes. In Alex Lewis and Bridget Angear’s book Revolt (which anyone who wants to start a revolution needs to read!) they explore the importance of maximising your ROI (Revolution on Investment) with the example of helping people with sight loss. They highlight that in Ethiopia alone, there are 1 million people who could be treated for trachoma induced blindness by an operation of £15. 

So imagine you’re an eyewear brand and instead of showing a bunch of hipster Santa Clauses wearing your collection you decide to spend a fraction of your Christmas marketing budget on a cause like this. Surely that would be a magical Christmas moment to capture? That would be a TV spot to make the hairs on your arms stand up for all the right reasons. One that would undoubtably build brand awareness, attract new customers and showcase the benefits of your brand on wider scale, which lets face it if done well, would ultimately lead to sales growth. 

Wouldn’t that be better than just nice?

Back in September we had the privilege of listening to Dave Trott speak about risk taking, one thing that he highlighted was that as advertisers, it’s our job to communicate a message and to do it differently. So before you even begin concepting for next year, why not think about that Christmas ad break and what else will be in it, what themes and patterns can you predict and how can you go against the grain? This message goes out to the Brand Managers writing the briefs and the Creative teams responding, when it comes to the ideation process for next year’s Christmas TV spot, how can you think about the bigger picture you could support, celebrate and give back to? In our industry we have a huge amount of power to influence and inform, so lets start pushing concepts to a point where we see a benefit in society not just our trophy cabinet. 

Let’s start making it matter. 

 

Written by Stefanie Sword-Williams, Senior Account Manager at Mattr.Media.

 

5 ways to figure out what content your audience is going to love

First things first, the key ingredient to figure out what your audience is going to love is the right attitude: whatever content you create should NOT be all about you and it definitely shouldn’t be about how amazing your product is. You need to focus on what it is that your target audience actually WANTS to read, listen to and watch.