Brands are on untrodden ground when it comes to marketing in today’s landscape. It’s a new era of activism from consumers and purpose-driven marketing from brands. Gillette, Nike, Patagonia and a small handful of others have worn their hearts on their sleeves. They’ve put messages in the world that let people know where they stand, and the result has been some of the most talked-about brands in the world.
It’s no wonder why these brands are putting stakes in the ground. People are expecting more from brands. The majority of consumers say they show greater brand loyalty for businesses that reflect their beliefs. They want more than just products. They want to feel that the companies they support are creating what they think the world should be.
Don’t Let Actions Subvert the Message
Businesses can make the world a better place, not only in the way they operate (e.g., environmentally conscious) but also in the way they shape culture with the messages they share.
Patagonia’s nailed both sides of the coin. Their operations reflect their messaging, and consumers know they can believe Patagonia will stand by its words.
Words have power. Words coming from brands can shape culture. But words without action ring hollow. They ring as something untrue that deflates those who believe in the message the brand is sharing and emboldens those who want to disagree and cry foul.
Brands can leave the world better off, but if they’re going to do so, they have to back up their words with actions—the kind of actions that make it apparent their messages aren’t lip service.
Don’t be a hypocrite and own up to mistakes. Businesses do a lot, and it’s difficult to do the right thing 100% of the time. If your brand puts a message out into the world saying one thing, but your brand’s past shows a different behavior, own up to it. Apologize. Let people know that you recognize your imperfections in the past and are ready to be held accountable for different behavior in the future.
Take action outside your walls. Don’t just make a donation that serves as just another tax ride off. Take real action in the world. Empower your employees to take action. Any business can donate, and all of them do. What are you doing to go above and beyond to backup your statements?
Take action inside your walls. If you’re espousing a message of equality and diversity, your company leadership better reflect that. If your business is about empowerment and respect, cover-ups of corporate misconduct should be non-existent. Walk the walk before you talk the talk.
Now, is a special time to be in marketing. People want to know the story behind the brands they do business with, and I believe those stories can make the world better. If we back up our messages with actions, this moment of opportunity to leave the world better than we found it will be one of hope and optimism. If we don’t back up what we say, however, this will become an era of cynicism.