How to Use Brand Activism to Mobilize Your Customers

Dare to care! What is brand activism? It’s a term we’ll all be hearing a lot more about. Historically, people are more familiar with the term consumer activism, which the Financial Times defines as, “The range of activities undertaken by consumers or NGOs to make demands or state their views about certain causes linked directly or indirectly to a company.” In the extreme, such a movement could even lead to a boycott, the FT explains.

If you flip that negativity around, but retain the passion, you get brand activism — a positivity in which a brand’s purpose is seen to bring real value into people’s lives.

Ben And Jerry Sos Climatepage 600px

Image via www.benjerry.com

In 2016, finance professor Alex Edmans, PhD., of the London Business School announced the results of a study into the effect of purpose on profit. “I found that the 100 best companies to work for in America beat their peers by 2-3 percent per year over a 28-year period, from 1984 to 2011.” He added that, “To earn profit a company is forced to care about society. It has to make high quality products, or customers will stop buying. It has to treat its workers well, or they’ll leave. And it can’t pollute the environment, or its brand will be hurt.”[1]

Simon Mainwaring, author of the branding manifesto, “We First: How Brands and Consumers Use Social Media to Renew Capitalism and Build a Better World,” summarizes in his article, “Why Profit Alone Will Put You Out of Business.” Research from three top global firms: Havas Media[2], Cone Communications[3] and Edelman,[4] indicate that today’s consumers “expect brands to be socially responsible and are willing to pay more for products and services from those that do.”

How to Activate Your Brand

Your brand’s goal is to give a customer the feeling of a personal connection with the brand via the brand’s purpose. We’ll take a look at some brand strategy examples from each of these activism approaches:

  • Experiential events
  • Promotional events
  • In-store retail marketing
  • Content marketing

 

   

Experiential: Donald Trump and Brand Activism

When politicians generously supply people attending a rally with signs, banners, baseball caps and badges, they understand that not all brand activism is measureable in standard ROI terms. Nonetheless, they are certainly aware of the effect such a display makes for the television cameras. Donald Trump calls his staged events “a movement.” For better or worse, that’s brand activism impacting the voting booth.

 

   

Trump Signs Evan Guest 600px  

Image via Evan Guest, flickr

 

 

Promotional: Leonardo DiCaprio and Brand Activism

As we all know, celebrities embody their own personal brands. But there are huge differences among such people as to how they choose to activate the power of their brand.

In 2014, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon designated Leonardo DiCaprio as UN Global Ambassador of Peace saying, “Mr. DiCaprio is a credible voice in the environmental movement, and has a considerable platform to amplify its message. I am pleased he has chosen to add his voice to UN efforts to raise awareness of the urgency and benefits of acting now to combat climate change.”[5]

      Leonardo Di Caprio Against Fossil Fuels 600px

Image via Leonardo DiCaprio fan page www.leonardodicaprio.com

One glance at the actor’s website highlighting the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation[6] indicates where he’s coming from as he invites his fans to follow him to the podium at the Global Citizen Festival, the Paris Climate Summit, the World Economic Forum, and more.

Before a standing ovation by his Hollywood peers at the 88th Academy Awards in 2016, Leo channeled his 60 seconds as king of the world to frame an urgent call. Using his Oscar acceptance speech to reach 34 million people, the actor expressed his passionate views on climate change. Within a week, brand marketers had dubbed this “The Leo Effect.” One glance at the actor’s own website highlighting the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation[7] indicates where he’s coming from. That’s brand activism.

       Leonardo Di Caprio World Economic Forum 600px

Image via Leonardo DiCaprio fan page www.leonardodicaprio.com

In-store: Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream and Brand Activism

When it comes to wide flung brand activism, it’s hard to beat the Vermont ice cream maker. “We speak to the aspiring activist inside all of us…everyone gets a happy feeling when they contribute to society,” says Ben & Jerry’s CEO. The prosperity of this brand is about sharing a business model meant to create positive change in the world, right down to the electric car fleet solution.

At the Vermont ice cream company, the director of social mission says, “We work our way from inside the pint out. So we start with the dairy, making sure we support the farmers from which we source our dairy so they can have more sustainable, profitable family farms. Then we work our way through the pint — sugar, cocoa, banana, coffee, vanilla — all fair trade certified. Then we work our way to environmentally sustainable packaging.”

Ben & Jerry’s brand activism goes beyond the store’s freezer. In London in 2012, 18 consumers made the final round of “Join Our Core,” presenting an environmental sustainability pitch before an expert panel of judges.

Benand Jerry Sustainable Business Idea 600px

Image via www.benjerry.com

Five winners each received a £10,000 cash prize, six months of mentoring and a trip to Ben & Jerry’s headquarters in Vermont, as well as a year’s supply of ice cream. The priceless clincher? Having a Ben & Jerry’s flavour named after the winner. This annual initiative has gone global.[8]

The People’s Climate March is a Ben & Jerry’s activation that has seen 700,000 people in cities around the world taking to the streets in peaceful protest, demanding action from corporate and political leaders. The brand is deft at connecting the dots from environmental conservation passion back to the brand, reflected in clever flavour names such as Save Our Swirled, Fossil Fuel, and Baked Alaska (“If It’s Melted, It’s Ruined”). Ben & Jerry’s is a leader in brand activism across three sets of elements: product, economic, and social.

Ben And Jerrys Baked Alaska 600px

Image via http://www.benjerry.com

Content: Dignity Health and Brand Activism

Dignity Health is a California-based not-for-profit public-benefit corporation operating hospitals and ancillary care facilities in 17 states. Via their project, “Hello Humankindness,” Dignity Health shines a spotlight on acts of kindness in their hospitals and throughout the world.

On the dedicated Hello Humankindness website[9], readers learn about a special education teacher who instills self-esteem among his students by praising each one of them at the start of every day. Another story features a former oncology nurse who is hand weaving Disney-themed wigs of soft yarn for young cancer patients who have suffered hair loss due to chemotherapy treatments, shipping them off at no charge to kids in 11 countries so far.

Beginning with small acts like saying good morning and making a new friend in the playground, the Great Kindness Challenge accounted for a record 250 million acts of kindness performed by 5 million primary school students and Dignity Health employees during a five-day period in January 2016.[10] Nothing resonates more than an authentic, selfless act of human kindness; it’s contagious. These very personal stories of kindness reflect favorably on the brand while making the world a better place.

Small Brand Activism: London Estate Agents

Bective Leslie Marsh is a small estate agency with five offices in Prime Central London,  focused on extremely popular residential areas like Chelsea, Kensington and Notting Hill, where standing out from a crowded field isn’t easy.

The emphasis on being “refreshingly different” includes hiring staff who live close to those offices, so they not only know the area, but have deep roots in each community. In addition to local knowledge, Bective Leslie Marsh has run a sponsorship department for two decades.

Bective Lesley Marsh Activism 600px

Image via www.bective.co.uk

Brand activism takes Bective Leslie Marsh way beyond simply making a charitable donation. BLM staff give time, energy and resources to long-standing local charities, such as West London Action for Children, by serving on the planning committee.

BLM staff are deeply embedded in the local communities they serve through brand activism which manifests in activities such as running prize-giving stalls at the local school together with garden fairs, hosting tables at trivia and bridge night fundraisers, providing players, homemade lemonade and branded trophies at tennis tournaments, serving hot cider at holiday events. Being laser-focussed on neighbourhood charities that build lasting relationships creates a far more personal, trustworthy approach to selling and letting clients’ homes — in short another form of brand activism at a meaningful local grass roots level.

Activism must deeply align with brand purpose, the mission, vision, values and causes that are at the brand’s core. Brands that get this right can drive incredible customer loyalty, advocacy and passion, inspiring others to join in.

People don’t buy just a product or service, it’s not just transactional business; they buy into the idea and the actions the brand stands for. Brand loyalty motivates fans, devotees, and advocates to tell others, often via social media,  about their favorite products or servcies. This  invaluable word-of-mouth is what leads to accelerated growth, increased profits and a lasting positive impact in society.

Questions to consider:

• Have you shared your brand purpose with all employees?

 

• Are your team at all levels within your business fully aware of and aligned to your brand’s purpose.

 

• Have you articulated your brand’s purpose through brand profiling using a system like the Personality Profile Performer™ to successfully move it from the meeting room to a living, breathing part of your brand DNA driving everything you do internally, and externally in how you connect with your customers?

 

• Have you performed any brand activations at a local community level?

 

• Has your brand ever sponsored a charity event or a charitable foundation?

 

• Have you ever held a product sample giveaway at your retail location or at an event?

 

• Have you considered giving a small percentage of each sale to a charitable beneficiery closely aligned to your brand’s whole mission, vision and purpose?

 

• Have you communicated your brand purpose, your brand’s ‘big why’, in a blog, advertising, social media, or other content?

You may also like:

 

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Brand Profiling: How Brand Performance and Purpose are Inextricably Linked

 

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Brand Profiling: How to Use Emotion to Make Your Brand More Profitable

 

Brand Audits: 10 Things Successful Brand Owners and Managers Must Know  

 

Brand Revitalisation and Relaunch: The do’s and don’ts of doing it successfully!

 

Brand CSR: The Business Case for Successful Branding and Social Good

 

Co-Branding: 13 Tips for Growing Your Brand Through Strategic Partnerships

 

 

[1] http://www.sustainablebrands.com/news_and_views/organizational_change/maxine_perella/leo_effect_post-csr_world_can_profit_co-exist_pu

[2] http://www.meaningful-brands.com

[3] http://www.conecomm.com/2015-global-csr-study

[4] http://www.edelman.com/insights/intellectual-property/2015-edelman-trust-barometer

[5] http://www.un.org/climatechange/summit/2014/09/secretary-general-designates-leonardo-di-caprio-un-messenger-peace

[6] http://leonardodicaprio.org

[7] http://leonardodicaprio.org

[8] http://www.sustainablebrands.com/news_and_views/social_enterprise/ben-jerrys-ashoka-vet-social-entrepreneurs-join-our-core

[9] https://hellohumankindness.org

[10] http://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2016/03/02/dignity-health-inspires-5-million-students-to-complete-record-number-acts-of-humankindness

Brand CSR: The Business Case for Successful Branding and Social Good

According to a Nielsen poll of consumers in 60 countries, 55 percent of purchasers are willing to pay more for products and services from companies that do their part to encourage positive social and environmental impacts.[1]

 

Clearly, corporate social responsibility influences buying preferences, but how else is it important? We’ll examine the answer to that question below.

 

  Corporate Social Responsibility 600px

Image via www.huffpost.com

 

 

What is Corporate Social Responsibility?

 

Corporate Social Responsibility, or CSR, occurs when companies take into account the sociological, financial and environmental impacts its actions have in the world and decides to ensure its actions make a positive impact. [2].

  

Some business experts have simplified the definition of CSR even further to suggest it encompasses everything a company actively does to have a positive impact on society.

 

There are numerous types of CSR, such as:

 

  • Philanthropy
  • Production Improvements
  • Better Conditions for Workers
  • Sustainability
  • Community Enrichment
  • Diversity in Hiring Practices
  • Supporting Companies with Similar Values

 

Typically, the manner in which a company engages in CSR is closely aligned with its brand strategy, brand values, positioning, primary audience and industry sector. For example, a clothing manufacturer might iron out a CSR plan that improves working conditions in factories located in developing countries, while an establishment that makes paper products might commit to CSR that ensures the world’s most at-risk forests are protected and regenerated.

 

 

Why is CSR Good for Business?

 

Although many corporate leaders are encouraged by the aforementioned statistic that shows a company’s involvement in CSR may mean a customer is willing to pay more for its services, they usually require stronger beneficial commercial evidence before taking further action.

 

However, they don’t need to look very far before uncovering some of the numerous other benefits linked to CSR, including: [3]

 

 

  • Happier Staff: Employees take pride in working for a company that supports the greater good through worthy actions and happier staff are more productive and better brand ambassadors

 

  • More Informed Customers: If your company announces a CSR strategy, the associated plans could potentially result in a more transparent organization which in turn typically results in more loyal customers.

 

Research shows customers want to know more about the things they buy, product or service, than ever before. For example, a study published by IBM noted 59 percent of American consumers and 57 percent of consumers from the United Kingdom have become more informed about the foods they buy and eat over the two years prior to the study’s publication.[4] 

 

In other words, customers’ predisposition to buy, product or service, is becoming increasingly influenced by an organization’s authenticity, openness and commitment to the greater good.

 

  • Reduced Costs: CSR can cut costs by helping companies become aware of and minimize risks, plus improve the efficiency of their supply chains.

 

  • Improved Competitiveness: In a challenging marketplace, a worthwhile CSR plan could carve out a more solid place with a unique positioning for a company to thrive.

 

  • Better Public Relations and Reputation Management: A CSR plan gives a company a platform through which to promote good things like community involvement, donations to charities and other big-hearted gestures.

 

 

 

Developing an Effective Corporate Responsibility Plan for Your Brand

 

In order to launch a CSR plan that’s good for business and engages genuinely with your stakeholders, it must be carefully crafted. The key is to strike a balance between benefiting society at large, and benefitting the business. [5] Doing that means:

 

  Business Idea Action Plan 600px

 

 

  • Evaluating how and where the business can have the greatest societal impact without taxing the company’s leadership and resources. This frequently involves scrutinizing the company’s existing competencies. Those strengths can provide clues to possible CSR strategies that are revealed after tapping into existing skillsets.

  

  • Cultivating a deep understanding of how certain actions could help the business while simultaneously supporting the chosen causes. This often also necessitates having an open heart and mind while listening to feedback from stakeholders.

  

  • Aligning with partners can propel your desired efforts and help bring goals to fruition. Ideally, adopting a long-term mindset when forming collaborative CSR relationships is best for all concerned.

  

  • Ensure business objectives and CSR goals match up. If there is a disconnect between these two components, your CSR activities risk being time-consuming and lacking the power needed to make lasting changes.

  

  

Examples of Brand CSR Strategies That Have Worked Well, and Why

 

Now you have a deeper understanding of what corporate social responsibility is and how to start formulating your own plan, let’s look at the characteristics of some successful CSR programs with companies that are excelling in their CSR endeavors [6]. You can then use these actionable tips to drive your own brand CSR inspiration.

 

CSR experts agree all successful CSR programmes typically have:

  • clear objectives
  • measurable outcomes
  • well-developed theories for how to achieve the desired goals
  • sufficient information for stakeholders about why causes are worth pursuing
  • dedicated and highly focused efforts from the entire company
  • a willingness to partner with credible experts.

 

 

Let’s look at a few case studies that detail some stellar CSR successes.

 

APS Group

This UK-based SME spent years ironing out its CSR strategy. Lacking the resources to hire a dedicated CSR team, the company found employees who were willing to champion the company’s CSR causes, which include education and supplier sustainability.

 

  

  

  

  

Media clips from the company place a strong emphasis on making things possible for clients that they would not be able to achieve alone, as does the company’s published document about its CSR initiatives. Through CSR efforts, it can also be strongly argued the company is living out its “Make More Possible” slogan by enabling the people and organizations affected by the causes it supports. APS Group is a great example of how even if a company thinks creating a CSR plan is a daunting task, success is still within reach. [8]

 

 

Method

This brand of cleaning products uses natural ingredients such as coconut oil and soy. Furthermore, the products’ packaging is environmentally responsible and biodegradable. Since the company boasts over $100 million in revenue annually, that is proof “green” products can be commercially viable.

  

   Method Cleaning 600px

Image via www.methodhome.com

 

 

Furthermore, Method demonstrates CSR focuses do not have to be separate from the products you make. Some media clips from the company that details its CSR focuses specifically highlight input from industry experts to make a bigger impact.

 

  

 

  

  

LUSH Cosmetics

This company sells bathing and beauty products filled with natural ‘Fair Trade’ ingredients. The brand’s Charity Pot is sold to benefit a rotating assortment of non-profit organizations. All proceeds from the Charity Pot go directly to the chosen groups, resulting in millions of dollars raised. [10]

 

The packaging is just one indicator of how easy it is for people to support good causes by purchasing these black, lotion-filled containers. LUSH uses the labels on the top of pots to inform consumers who the recipients are by clearly stating the designated charity concerned.

  

   Lush Pot Lids 600px

Image via www.lush.co.uk

  

  

The brand also has a fund that supports communities which produce fairly traded goods. It was launched in 2010 and borne from a desire the company had to do something more than just use fair-trade ingredients in their products whenever possible. [11]

   

 

  

   

 

Charting the Results of Your CSR Strategy

 

It can sometimes appear somewhat difficult to determine with certainty whether your CSR strategies have achieved the desired outcomes. One of the more effective ways you can answer that question is by engaging an independent research firm, with specialist expertise, to rank certain aspects of a company’s CSR performance, from human rights to the environment and community. [12]

 

Additionally, you can check effectiveness through various metrics [13] such as:

 

  • Environmental indices for pollution or air/water/soil quality
  • Quality and quantity of mentions in media outlets
  • Measurements for the quality of life within a society, such as literacy rates, life expectancy and incidences of disease, plus mental, physical and emotional heath. The latter could be gauged through feedback surveys given to workers
  • Indicators of the company’s economic health by way of profits, growth, and stability, before and after a CSR campaign launches

 

 

Statistics 600px

 

 

In conclusion, customers are becoming increasingly hyper-conscious of how and where they spend their money. Recent research also indicates this trend is strongest among Millennials, the largest consumer segment in terms of buying power. [14] Specifically, 91 percent of Millennials actively switch to brands that support a worthy cause, and abandon the brands that aren’t perceived to have an authentic contribution policy.

 

In addition to boosting your customer base and potential profits, a well-developed CSR plan could strengthen your relationship with suppliers, increase competitiveness in the marketplace and help you cut costs by becoming more aware of risks. Therefore, many business leaders have come to realize it’s short sighted to not be involved in corporate social responsibility.

    

Key Takeaways

 

  • Customers are typically willing to pay more for products from companies associated with strong CSR brand strategies
  • CSR goals vary depending on a company’s values and the composition of their stakeholders
  • A good CSR plan should both benefit the business and help society
  • The CSR plan must align with a company’s business objectives
  • Expert individuals or notable groups can help improve CSR strategy success
  • Metrics and independent research groups can evaluate whether a CSR plan is working well

 

Have you integrated a CSR strategy into your organization? If not, it might be a good idea to take a look at how CSR could benefit all concerned.

  

Questions to Consider

  

  • Does your company have well-defined core competencies that could translate into areas of CSR focus?

  

  • How motivated are your stakeholders to pursue a CSR plan?

 

  • Are there obstacles that might delay CSR-related brand strategy plans?

  

  • Have you thought about how to tackle negative responses from stakeholders that CSR is not currently worthwhile?

 

  • Which measurement methods will you consider using to verify your CSR brand strategy effectiveness?

 

 

You may also like:

 

• What Customers Want: Top 16 Branding Trends in 2016

  

• Rebranding Strategy: Why Your Rebrand Must Embrace Storytelling

    

• Brand Profiling: Top 6 Components to Creating a Strong Brand Personality

  

• Creating New Brands: Top 10 Tips for Brand Success  

 

• Brand Personality: Is Your Brand’s Character Big Enough to Compete?

  

• Millennial Branding: 6 Ways Your Brand Can Appeal to Millennial Customers 

 

• Co-Branding: 13 Tips for Growing Your Brand Through Strategic Partnerships 

 

Video Brand Strategy: Top 11 Tips for How and Why You Need to Use Video

     

[1] http://www.nielsen.com, “Global Consumers Are Willing to Put Their Money Where Their Heart Is When it Comes to Goods and Services from Companies Committed to Social Responsibility”, June 2014

[2] http://toolkit.smallbiz.nsw.gov.au, “What is Corporate Social Responsibility?”

[3] http://www.csrinpractice.com, “What is Corporate Social Responsibility?”

[4] George Pohle and Jeff Hittner, https://www-935.ibm.com, “Attaining Sustainable Growth Through Corporate Responsibility.”, 2008

[5] Tracey Keys, Thomas W. Malnight, and Kees van der Graaf, http://www.mckinsey.com, “Making the Most of Corporate Social Responsibility” June 2009

[6] Frederick E. Allen, http://www.forbes.com, “The Five Elements of the Best CSR Programs.” April 2011.

[7] http://www.theapsgroup.com/who-we-are/corporate-social-responsibility/

[8] Lisa Henshaw, http://www.theguardian.com, “How SMEs Can Engage in Social Responsibility Programmes,” December 2011.

[9] http://www.inc.com, “How Two Friends Built a $100 Million Company”

[10] Helaina Hovitz, http://www.forbes.com, “Following the Millions in LUSH’s ‘Charity Pot’. December 2014

[11] https://www.lush.co.uk/.  “Introducing the SLush Fund”

[12] Tima Bansal, Natalie Slawinski, Cara Maurer, Natalie Slawinski, Cara Maurer. http://www.iveybusinessjournal.com, “Beyond Good Intentions: Strategies for Managing Your CSR Performance” January/February 2008.

[13] Katherine N. Lemon, John H. Roberts, Priya Raghubir and Russell S. Winter, http://www.philoma.org. “A Stakeholder-Based Approach: Measuring the Effects of Corporate Social Responsibility”, 2011.

[14] www.conecomm.com, “New Cone Communications Research Confirms Millennials as America’s Most Ardent CSR Supporters,” September 2015.

  

Top 10 Packaging Trends for 2016

According to a 2013 publication by EY, the global consumer packaging market is valued at approximately $400 billion. That figure balloons to $500 billion when industrial end markets are included. [1]

 

Packaging is clearly a big business, but it’s not just about the materials that cover a product or protect it prior to purchase. First and foremost packaging must grab the attention of its primary audience, stand out from the competition and create a compelling reason to buy.

 

Packaging must sell the brand proposition and how it can enhance the purchaser’s life, present the product or contents to best effect, fulfill statutory and mandatory requirements, protect contents, help the purchaser use and store the contents appropriately.[2] People buy with emotion first and justify with rational afterwards, regardless of gender or cultural background, so your packaging must touch the heart if you want to move the mind.

 

Below, we’ll look at combination of 10 emerging and continuing packaging trends for 2016.

 

1. Packaging with Hand-Drawn Labels

 

Last month I wrote about ‘What Customers Want: Top 16 Branding Trends for 2016’ and in that article I touched on key trends in the brand arena for the year ahead; personalized, authentic, humanized, interactive, transparency, engaging, and mobile. Packaging is in effect at the sharp edge of these trends too.

 

Shoppers are gravitating towards brands that convey authenticity and that’s often very effectively conveyed with ‘hand done’ or ‘hand finished’ details. With that in mind, some companies have redesigned their brand packaging to feature carefully hand-drawn labels. The High Weald Brewery is one example. Made in Sussex, England, these artisan brews feature packaging that commands attention [3] and complements the upscale beverages inside, plus conveys warmth that implies the distinctive labels weren’t just hastily made or mass produced as an afterthought.

    

   High Weald Brewery 600px

Image via www.highwealdbrewery.co.uk

  

 

2. Personalized Packaging

 

Although this trend emerged in 2014, it shows no signs of slowing down. Coca-Cola led the way with bottles that read, “Share a Coke with…” and featured a person’s name. As the trend gained popularity, the labels became more generic and featured names such as “Mom” and “a Friend”. Now, Coca-Cola has a designated website where people can buy personalized Coke bottles.

 

Nutella, a brand of popular hazelnut spread, has also followed suit by creating packaging with names.  As of October 2015, customers in the UK can request free personalized labels after purchasing Nutella. 

 

 

3. Metal Packaging You Can Microwave

 

Dutch students helped create premium packaging for Emmi, a Swiss dairy brand. Available as part of a ready-to-use fondue kit, the package consists of a metal bowl that can be microwaved or placed in a traditional oven, thanks to a special food-safe lacquer. [4]

 

 

 Emmi Fondu Tulip Karton 400g Usa 600px

Image via www.packworld.com

 

 

Emmi wanted to keep its brand strong with packaging that encouraged differentiation, and has received critical acclaim for this innovation. It may encourage other companies to develop similarly forward-thinking packages in 2016.

 

 

4. Packaging Gets Increasingly Convenient for Customers and Consuming Food

 

Since consumers increasingly lack free time, many large companies have endeavoured to help them cook dinner as easily as possible. Some smaller establishments are also meeting that growing need.  One such venture is The Black Farmer, also based in the UK.

 

Case Study: The Black Farmer

 

Run by Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones, The Black Farmer offers premium meats, including gluten-free options — another growing food trend. It recently announced a pork loin roast that cooks in the package and includes a special blend of spices. [5]

 

 

 The Black Farmer Pork Loin Roast In The Bag 600px

Image via www.theblackfarmer.com

 

 

Jones says research has shown consumers are not confident enough cooking pork at home because they’re not sure how to do it well. The roast-in-the-bag design cooks the pork in less than an hour, and most importantly does not require preparation.

  

 

 

 

This convenience is commonly offered for chicken, but The Black Farmer is the first brand to enter the pork market with such packaging. Translucent material makes it easy to see the contents, while this concept appeals to people who want quick dinners but won’t sacrifice high quality for convenience.

 

 

5. Materials and Structure Are More Than What They Seem

 

Global Closure Systems has engineered a new type of plastic material that mimics the look and feel of glass. These shatterproof containers have two layers and are more efficient to produce than previous kinds of containers made by GCS.[6] Not only is the packaging more pleasing to the eye compared to plastic, but it’s also safer for consumers since it’s less vulnerable to breakage.

  

  

 Global Closure Systems1112

Image via www.packagingeurope.com

 

 

Additionally, Sonoco has developed a package with a metal top and an easy-to-open pull tab, plus clear plastic sides so consumers can see inside.  Called the TrueVue Can, the BPA-free product has a customizable height and wall thickness, so manufacturers can request packaging that shows off their products effectively.

 

 

Tru Vue Plastic Can 600px 

Image via www.sonoco.com

 

  

 

6. Snack Packaging On-The-Go Becomes Handier

 

Last summer, the Hormel Foods Corporation expanded its brand of Skippy peanut butter by offering peanut butter-inspired snacks featuring a crunchy center with a soft peanut butter coating. They’re sold in clear plastic containers that not only make the snacks easy to consumer on the go, but enable customers to view them before purchasing.  However, it’s not the only product appealing to snack lovers who crave convenience.

 

Case Study: Walgreens

 

Walgreens followed Hormel Food Corporation’s lead by upgrading its private-label packages of premium nuts. Specifically, a section of the container is removable to allow consumers to use it as a single-serving bowl. The portability and versatility of the new packaging saw sales grow by 23 percent, and helped it earn a gold medal at the National Association of Container Distributors (NACD) Packaging Awards last year. [7]

  

  

 Walgreensnuts 500px

Image via www.chiefpackagingofficer.com

 

  

7. Increasing Prevalence of Recyclable – Coffee Pods

 

Last spring, Keurig began making recyclable coffee pods, much to the delight of eco-friendly consumers. [8]  In November, news broke that Wolfgang Puck would do the same. [9]  

 

 

  

 

 

These more sustainable forms of packaging follow a growing trend, not only amongst consumer preferences but are also at a statutory and industry level in response to the even more pressing environmental issues associated with excessive packaging, pollution and landfill. By introducing this Earth-conscious functionality, brands are signaling consumers can still enjoy preferred products without being wasteful.

 

 

 Wolfgang Puck 500px

Image via www.packagingdigest.com

 

 

It also potentially becomes a more transparent and honest part of their CSR brand strategy, a factor which has a huge impact on Millennials’ decisions to purchase a brand. In fact it’s worth noting that six out of ten Millennials feel personally responsible for making a difference — all of which impacts their brand choices. 90 percent of Millennials actively purchase brands associated with a cause and half of Millennial consumers will abandon a brand if they disagree with the company’s ethics.

  

 

8. Packaging That Makes It Clear How Consumers Can Give Back – CSR

 

Expect to see a larger amount of packaging that spells out how consumers can make a difference by buying a particular product. Piggy Bank Wines, for example, gives 25 cents from every bottle sold to one of three charities.

  

   Piggy Bank Wines Home Pg 600px

Image via www.piggybankwine.com

 

  

The packaging features a QR code consumers can scan so they can vote for their favorite of the three organizations. Once the charitable fund reaches $5,000, voting ceases and the money is distributed accordingly.

 

 

Case Study: SoapBox

 

In a similar CSR-related vein, the SoapBox company features a “Hope Code” on its packaging that users can use to find out where the profits from that product are going. [10] Every code is unique, meaning people can theoretically support a different charitable cause with each purchase.

 

   Soap Box Soaps 600px

Image via www.soapboxsoaps.com

 

  

Fittingly, all the company’s charitable efforts focus on sanitation needs and clean water. This outreach matches the brand’s focus and is an inherent part of it’s brand values, all of which helps encourage its primary customers to embrace the cause and the brand.

  

  

  

  

  

9. Packaging That Makes Product Dispensing Simpler

 

The makers of Daisy Sour Cream have released a new package for its product that allows consumers to dispense the ingredient without a spoon. Fitted with a flexible valve, the package makes it easy to dispense the right portion size. Also, the foil package fits in a refrigerator door, ensuring it maintains front of sight visibility for consumer and encouraging consumption before the expiration date.  [11]

 

 

 Daisy Sour Cream

Image via www.daisybrand.com

 

 

In 2016, it’s more likely brand owners will increasingly use packaging more imaginatively and in new ways to give them a more competitive edge to ultimately increase profitability.

 

  

10. More Beer Packaging May Include Nutrition Facts

 

In the United States, it’s voluntary for beer manufacturers to include nutrition facts on packaging. As you may expect, nutritional content is most often highlighted on brews touted as low calorie.

 

The concern with calories has also attracted attention in the United Kingdom. [12] The Local Government Association (LGA) is a lobbying group representing more than 350 councils. It argues alcohol is contributing to the obesity crisis, and consumers generally don’t realize how many calories alcohol contains. It remains to be seen what’ll happen with alcohol packaging in the UK.

   

It’s clear from the trends above that packaging does much more than just protect merchandise before it’s sold, or inform people about the products inside. It assists customers in making the right choice, it makes it easier for consumers to use the product, which may inspire greater loyalty, helps buyers do good by giving back and even make us admire how far science has come through new, high-tech packaging solutions.

  

Key Takeaways

 

  • Ideally, successful packaging must be visually pleasing, communicate the brand’s key message effectively and be user friendly — done well, it’s multi-purpose in its design both functionally and aesthetically

 

  • Appealing to consumers’ desire for convenience is a worthwhile strategy, if that packaging intent doesn’t undermine the perceived value of the brand

 

  • Societal trends, such as increased giving with active CSR brand strategies or recycling, will increasingly influence packaging trends

 

  • Simplicity, both in the way a package looks and functions in terms of ease of use, is a growing trend with consumers looking for brands with a sense of the more authentic, transparent and ‘responsible’ commitments to society

 

   

Questions to Consider

 

  • What are the technical and operational needs required for your brand’s future packaging? Have you adequately invested in those areas or conducted a brand audit to evaluate your changing market requirements?

  

  • Have you sought feedback from your primary customer to find out about the kind of improvements they’d like to see in your brand and its packaging, and how they feel about those planned changes if your considering rebranding?

 

  • Recyclable coffee pods are examples of how well-known brands adapted to societal trends. Have you considered how your brand could do the same?

 

  • SoapBox judiciously combines its CSR strategy with innovative packaging design. How might your brand follow suit?

 

  • Personalization is an increasingly important brand trend but for packaging it can be prohibitively expensive. Are there ways you could tap into this growing trend and leverage it in a way that’s more cost effective?

 

 

You may also like:

  

• What Customers Want: Top 16 Branding Trends in 2016

  

• Packaging Design: Top 16 Tips for Great Eye-Catching Packaging Design

    

• Packaging Design: How to Make it into an Irresistible Customer Brand Magnet

  

• Rebranding Strategy: Why Your Rebrand Must Embrace Storytelling

   

• Limited Edition Packaging: How to Use it as Part of Your Brand Strategy

  

• Brand Profiling: Top 6 Components to Creating a Strong Brand Personality

    

• Packaging Design: How It Can Make or Break Your Brand

  

• Creating New Brands: Top 10 Tips for Brand Success  

  

• Colour Psychology: Cracking the Colour Code for Profitable Branding

  

• Brand Personality: Is Your Brand’s Character Big Enough to Compete?

 

[1] http://www.ey.com, “Unwrapping the Packing Industry: Seven Factors for Success”, 2013.

[2] Simon Preece, http://www.forbes.com, “The Five Things Product Packaging Must Do”, July 2014.

[3] http://www.thedieline.com, “High Weald Brewery”, November 2015.

[4] Anne Marie Mohan, http://www.packworld.com, “Microwavable Metal Bowl Developed for Ready to (H)eat Fondue”, December 2015.

[5]  http://www.foodbev.com, “The Black Farmer Launches Roast-in-the-Bag Pork Loin Joints”, December 2015.

[6] http://www.packagingeurope.com, “Global Closure Systems Provides ‘Glass-Like’ Plastic Jar,” November 2015.

[7] http://www.chiefpackagingofficer.com, “New Nut Container Upgrades Walgreens Private Label Snack Packaging,” December 2015.

[8]  http://www.businesswire.com, Keurig Makes Coffee-To-Go Easier with Launch of K-Mug Pods,” March 2015.

[9] Kate Bertrand Connolly, http://www.packagingdigest.com, Wolfgang Puck Switches to Recyclable Pods,” November 2015.

[10] Kate Bertrand Connolly, http://www.packagingdigest.com “SoapBox’s HopeCode Shows Consumers How Their Purchases Are Helping,” June 2015.

[11] Dave Johnson, http://www.packagingstrategies.com, “Daisy Turns Sour Cream Upside Down with New Flexible Package,” December 2015.

[12] Seb Joseph, http://www.thedrum.com, “Alcohol Packaging Should Sport Calorie Labels, Warn LGA”, January 2016.

  

  

Seasonal Branding: Tread Carefully with Christmas Themed Brand Strategies

Fourth quarter commercialism looms large. Sparkly red and green Christmas displays are simultaneously mounted as spooky orange and black Halloween decorations come down.

From Ireland to Illinois, consumers react in unpredictable ways to brand seasonal messages that creep in earlier and earlier every year. For retailers, that response can mean boom or bust for critical end-of year-sales figures.

  

 

Black Friday Launches the Season

 

Like a turkey sandwich in-between Halloween and Christmas, America has another huge national holiday. On the fourth Thursday of November, the weekend following Thanksgiving traditionally signaled the official start of Christmas during most of the 20th century. Dreamt up as a marketing concept in 2003, Black Friday is now the most frenzied shopping day of the year. It sees queues forming overnight for big sales, many beginning at dawn and some as early as midnight on Thanksgiving Day.

 

Black Friday is spreading. In recent years, Canada, Mexico and India have followed suit while giant American retailers like Disney and Apple introduce online sales in Australia, too. French shoppers are familiar with “Vendredi Noir.” In the U.K., Tesco and Argos 2014 Black Friday promotions prompted police action in Manchester, with Argos withdrawing from the event in 2015. 

 

Meantime, as early Christmas shop windows draw back the curtains on November installations, the 114-year-old U.S. retailer Nordstrom takes a different approach, making a statement about celebrating one holiday at a time, as seen in a window display. 

  

  

 Nordstrom Window Twitter

Image via www.twitter.com

 

  

In America, Hollywood goes nuts at the holidays over box office receipts for new film releases, but the small screen is tame on TV adverts compared to the U.K., where Christmas adverts are a national pastime. 

  

We look at a mixed bag of examples representing both large brands and smaller ones on both sides of the pond to see how campaigns are making the most of the season — while others have misfired and are quickly pronounced a failure. See what you think about these adverts.

  

 

Balancing Sales Strategies Intended as Charitable Endeavours

 

John Lewis is one of those nationwide UK brands that attracts considerable media attention with their annual Christmas message, usually a tear-jerker. This year’s advert tells the story of a little 6-year-old girl called Lily and an old man she spies with her telescope, who lives — all alone and lonely — on the moon. The advert is designed to raise awareness for the charity, Age UK, with its tagline: “Show someone they’re loved this Christmas.”

 

 

 

 

 

According to The Guardian, “Last year, the retailer also spent £7m on a campaign featuring a realistic animated penguin and a young boy playing together to the tune of John Lennon’s Real Love, sung by British singer-songwriter Tom Odell. It had drummed up 22m views on YouTube by the first week of January…” This year’s numbers are soaring ahead of last year’s. 

 

  

 

 

Rachel Swift, head of brand marketing at John Lewis, is quoted in The Telegraph saying there is a consistent style for the store’s seasonal adverts. “It is has become part of our handwriting as a brand. It’s about storytelling through music and emotion. The sentiment behind that hasn’t changed – and that is quite intentional. The strategy behind our campaigns is always about thoughtful gifting.”

  

The £1 million production for a six-week-long £7 million campaign, which includes more cost for shop floors kitted out to resemble a moonscape, has seen members of the public ask[1]: Why couldn’t John Lewis make a multi-million contribution to Age UK? In fact, the profits from three small ticket items sold at the department store – a mug, a gift tag and a card – will go to the charity supplemented by donations from the public, inspired by the advert’s message.   

 

 

John Lewis Consumer Reaction Twitter 

Image via www.twitter.com

 

 

Brands Play to Emotions to Drive Brand Loyalty 

 

Tugging at the heartstrings via hugs, cute penguins, a melting Mr. Snowman, and even World War I soldiers celebrating a Christmas truce in the trenches are among the emotional connections brands are working and spending hard to make happen.

 

 

 

 

 

Why? In a word, loyalty. As pointed out by a retail analyst[2], for modern consumers to change brands no longer involves driving to another village or shopping centre; swapping brands is as easy as the click of a mouse. All of which means your brand strategy needs to be a lot more sophisticated if you want to first attract and then hold onto your customers. Remember people buy with emotion first and justify with rational afterwards — regardless of gender or cultural background. Your brand must be rich with authentic personality, have a really big why — reasons beyond the money to buy, create emotionally compelling reasons to engage, and ensure it includes an advocacy strategy within your action plan if you want to increase your profitability and ensure long-term success.  

 

A MindMover opinion poll[3] indicates the following brands are most closely associated with Christmas adverts in the U.K.: Coca-Cola, Marks & Spencer, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Argos, Cadbury, Asda, Toys R Us and Amazon. Not queried is the million pound question — that is, whether top-of-mind-awareness produces the all-important return on investment.

  

  

A Big Brand Blunder at Bloomingdale’s

 

Bloomingdale’s, U.S. luxury fashion chain stores owned by Macy’s, made such a spectacularly poor judgement in their 2015 Christmas advert that a week after the department store had apologized via Twitter, major editorials continued to call for a deeper response.

 

  

Bloomingdale's Advert Via Twitter 

Image via www.twitter.com

 

 

“Appearing to promote date rape,” says the Wall Street Journal[4], the “creepy” and “offensive” advert reads, “Spike your best friend’s eggnog when they’re not looking.” Clearly, it went viral in the wrong way for the large retailer.

  

  

 Bloomingdale's Apology On Twitter

 Image via www.twitter.com

 

  

A Storm in a Teacup at Starbucks

 

At Starbucks, they knew what they were doing when the white snowflakes decorating the seasonal red cup design were removed. A seemingly simple change sent consumers in large numbers straight to social media, to sign a petition, and to boycott the brand, claiming that Starbucks was making an anti-Christ religious statement. “It’s just a red cup”, tweeted the voice of reason while Instagram lit up with Starbucks images and the nation’s top talk show hosts chimed in.

 

 

 Starbucks Red Christmas Cup 2015

Image via www.vox.com

 

 

Three lessons learned, says Entrepreneur[5], and small brands should pay especially close attention to number three on this list:

1) All PR is good PR. Starbucks marketing knew the response wouldn’t be universally positive, but they also knew this was not a crisis

2) The power of social media sharing is awesome — and free

3) Brands who react fast can newsjack a trend. “Other coffee brands got a boost from the issue, such as Dunkin’ Donuts, with its holiday cup release.

  

  

 Dunkin' Donuts Shout Out Twitter

Image via www.twitter.com

 

 

The subject has also created opportunities for smaller companies, YouTubers and creative types alike to ride the wave and get attention.”

 

 

Just Wine Starbucks Cup Twitter 

Image via www.twitter.com

 

 

That’s the same brand strategy employed by the many John Lewis parody adverts that follow immediately on the heels of the store’s annual commercial.

 

 

Smaller Brands & Seasonal Brand Strategies

 

Small brands can make a large impact in the community by scaling ideas such as co-branding in a lower key way, supporting a charity or club, adding removable seasonal details to products and packaging design, donating Christmas trees to community centers, hospitals and nonprofit organizations.

 

In London, independent, privately-owned residential estate agency Bective Leslie Marsh has supported West London Action for Children for over a decade. Estate agents and local residents partner to raise funds for the 98-year-old charity through year-round bridge and tennis tournaments, trivia quiz nights, barn dances, garden fetes and more.

 

To offset Black Friday’s emphasis on big box stores and chain stores, Small Business Saturday was launched in the USA in 2010. It focuses on the bricks and mortar local shops that are the fabric of the Ma & Pa character neighbourhoods with American Express is the main sponsor. Partnerships and promotion via Google street view, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook come up with initiatives to launch holiday shopping on the last Saturday of November too. 

 

Other successful ideas have included branded shirts and kits for a local sports club, providing staff to serve Christmas dinners at senior centres, running a toy drive or food hampers collection, singing Christmas carols to collect for the Salvation Army, St. Vincent de Paul and similar. It’s important to make a small investment in well design brand collateral such as banners, posters, placards, T-shirts, caps and other branded items to decorate and to wear in order to properly associate the occasion with your own brand.

 

 

So, what do you think?

  

• Are you often caught short of time, or do you have a holiday marketing plan drawn up by Quarter 2? Do you need to include this as part of your brand audit health check or brand revitalization strategy?

 

• Does your brand have a charitable and/or community giving programme?

 

• Does your brand strategy include corporate social responsibility?

 

• Do you know what initiatives, outreach or volunteer activities your employees — your brand champions — would feel most supportive of on behalf of your brand?

 

• Do you feel confident about maximizing the potential impact on sales via volunteerism on behalf of your brand?

 

 

You might also like:

 

• Christmas Branding: Top 10 Tips to Infuse Your Brand with Seasonal Spirit

  

• Brand Personality: Is Your Brand’s Character Big Enough to Compete?

 

• Brand Voice: Differentiating Through Your Own Brand Language and Attitude

 

• Brand Sponsorships: The Best Brand Ambassadors Are Already On Your Payroll 

 

• Humanizing Your Brand: Why It is Key to Commercial Success

 

• Brand Differentiation: 30 Ways to Differentiate Your Brand

 

• Brand Profiling: Top 6 Components to Creating a Strong Brand Personality

 

• Creating New Brands: Top 10 Tips for Brand Success

 

• Brand Profiling: How to Use Emotion to Make Your Brand More Profitable  

 

[1] As seen on Twitter #johnlewischristmasadvert

[2] Bryan Roberts, Kantar Retail analyst, The Telegraph, 16/11/2015

[3] “Glad Tidings for John Lewis…”, The Guardian, 6/11/15

[4] “Bloomingdale’s Holiday Ad Draws Backlash…”, Wall St Journal, 12/11/2015

[5] “3 Lessons from Starbucks’ Red Cup ‘Controversy’”, Entrepreneur, 16/11/2015

 

 

Rebranding : How To Do It Successfully and Avoid Pitfalls

One of the world’s biggest brands – Coca Cola – has done it eleven times, albeit in a largely evolutionary manner, since selling their first sugar-laden fizzy drink in its now-iconic bottle. Thousands of other very successful well knows brands have also done it over the decades. It’s a critical and strategic part of all successful businesses regardless of size, be they global giants or much loved more local national players. If a brand wants to stay relevant and connected then rebranding is an essential part of its continued success.

 

The degree of change in rebranding can take many forms from a gentle evolutionary update to a radical overhaul, the decisions for which are driven by strategic business objectives. Done correctly, whether evolutionary or radical in nature, rebranding can have a hugely positive impact on the bottom line, and be responsible for driving a significant increase in a business’s profitability.

  

Equally, a poorly thought out rebranding strategy can pose serious risks to your business resulting in loss of credibility, brand equity and the hard won brand asset value which you’ve painstakingly built up over the years. Successful rebranding must be given careful thought, research and planning to ensure the successful results desired.

   

To give you some further insights into both the ‘hows’, ‘dos’ and ‘donts’ of rebranding we’ve included some examples in this article, which will provide you with some direction, if considering rebranding in your business. Disasters and successes are both learning tools when analysed from an informed perspective, there are always invaluable lessons here for us all!

 

 

Top 3 Reasons to Rebrand

1. Brand Evolution : Over Time We’ve Changed…

Sometimes a company moves on but its brand doesn’t. In other words, it doesn’t represent what that business ‘stands for’ or does any more. This was the case with American Airlines when its executives felt they needed to rebrand earlier this year. The rebrand included a complete re-evaluation of what the brand stood for, and how it was perceived by stakeholders, both internally and externally in the market.

 

Evolution Of American Airlines Logo

Image via Lost Press Marketing

 

Part of the rebranding process included an update of its visual icon, the brand identity, which hadn’t seen much change since its introduction back in 1968. Its important to note that brand logos are a shorthand way to remind us of a brand’s relevance, associations and reputation in the market and are a by-product of all a company’s brand building efforts over time. They are the visual aid or trigger that reminds customers of all the emotional and rational reasons of why they love (or in some cases dislike) a brand but they are not the ‘brand’ in themselves, merely the visual identifier.

  

When American Airlines analysed its brand logo in the context of what the brand stood for now in the current market, the old symbol wasn’t seen to meet current needs or communicate the core brand message any longer. America’s number one airline needed a more streamlined and vibrant visual image to represent the brand in its full context. They also wanted to let go of what they termed the ‘bullying emphasis’ they believed old logo represented, according to one senior AA executive:

 

“The old identity was slightly skewed to a more powerful American image. We needed to move it to [what we call] ‘American spirit,’” he said.  “That’s the side of America people really, really love. People have huge love for the eagle, but not necessarily the eagle in the downward position potentially attacking someone.”

 

 

   

2. Reputation Management : Negative Brand Sponsorships…

Brand sponsorship of significant high profile events, causes or people such as celebrities can reap immense rewards, through the association for the brand. Equally it can also cause reputation risks too, if for example the person concerned suddenly becomes embroiled in a publically unacceptable behaviour or expresses a controversial opinion or becomes aligned to something which is the opposite of what your brand stands for.

 

A simple example from the USA is a Missouri restaurant owner who’d named his restaurant after a Missouri basketball star (Albert Pujols). When Albert Pujols left the Missouri St. Louis Cardinals to play for the Los Angeles Angels suddenly ‘Pujols 5’ wasn’t the go-to restaurant in town anymore. In fact, it became the opposite, the owner received numerous cancellations, his premises were vandalized and a police cordon had to be set up to deter further damage. Sales dropped a whopping 75 per cent and it seemed as if the business was about to go bust. Indeed customers are filmed saying they doubted it would survive even a year.

 

A radical rebrand became critical to the fundamental survival of the business. In fact the rebrand required a complete name change to ‘Patrick’s Restaurant & Sports Bar’. The restaurant re-established itself successfully in the market with the rebrand and most importantly, in the minds of its target market, enabling the business to grow again profitably.

 

Unfortunately, in the case of US family-run firm ‘Ms & Mrs’ their brand wasn’t just broke but demolished – thanks to a much-anticipated promotion in a TV show which turned out to be a definite brand breaker as opposed to booster. The presenter on the ABC talk show, mispronounced the name of their company to Mr & Mrs. 

 

 Mr And Mrs Emergency Kit

 

Image via Audrey Lifestyle Magazine 

 

As a result, all that much-looked forward to thousands of dollars worth of free publicity and increased sales for the firm (it provides a variety of ‘emergency personal care kits’ for for all sorts of occaions) never happened.

 

That wasn’t the only time the name had been mispronounced. Vloggers had accidentally altered it too or even had trouble saying it in the first place. Enough was enough. It was time to do something. So the family rebranded and changed their brand name. In order to avoid any confusion, they chose a new name completely different from the original and became ‘Pinch Provisions’.

 

 Pinch Minimergency Brides Kit

Image via Pinch Provisions

 

They also did a brilliant pre-name change video – using humour to make fun of themselves (and no doubt endearing themselves to thousands more customers in the process). 

 

 

  

  

3. Brand Name Translations : Bad Interpretations

One of the key guidelines to brand naming is ensuring the name and its tag line translates appropriately across different languages and cultural boundaries. Sometimes this consideration has been overlooked resulting in unfortunate connotations or interpretations when translated into foreign languages, such as the following examples:

 

A sports drink in Japan, produced by Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co and aimed at replacing electrolytes lost in sweating is named Pocari Sweat (which we reckon wouldn’t go down well in English-speaking countries).

 

Pocari Sweat Ion Drink

 

In Germany the computer Commodore VIC-20 had to be renamed to the VC-20. The reason for this is that VIC in German would be pronounced fick which means (well, in English you’d put a ‘u’ in place in the ‘i’).

 

The American SciFi channel wanted a new text friendly name. Unfortunately they choose SyFy which in many countries turned out to be slang for syphilis.

 

Online marketing company PinCrusher used to be known as PinBot – until they realised the word ‘Bot’ didn’t have particularly good connotations (being associated with as a web crawler). It could also be extremely confusing considering their business was internet based and involved the selling of a Pinterest app…

 

Rebranding isn’t something that can be taken lightly. It needs to be strategically driven and supported by considerable market research to find out what’s working, what isn’t. Most importantly new potential rebrand approaches should also be ‘tested’ and researched, before full development and launch to market, to get feedback and ensure target audience ‘buy in’. Make sure you find out and know where and why to keep the good stuff, and bin the out of date or compromised, to ensure your rebrand launch is successful and increases your profitability.

 

• If you’re considering rebranding do you really know what works well for your brand and what aspects of it could do with a revamp?

 

• Have you researched your target audience to test brand sentiment and get feedback both at the beginning of you rebranding project and again at an advanced stage of development to test your new positioning/concepts etc.?

 

 

Why Align Your Brand to A Worthy Cause?

The benefits to worthy causes or charities of partnering with big brands are obvious. Charities, such as Oxfam, use partnerships with commercial brands as a media platform and an opportunity to get its message out to the public.

 

 M S Oxfam

 

Partnering with Marks & Spencer allows Oxfam to tap into the huge influence the M&S brand has over consumers. Being able to promote their message among that captured audience via this kind of partnership is immensely beneficial to the charity and their work.

 

However partnerships of this nature can be mutually beneficial to both the charity and brand alike. It bequeaths the commercial brand with a deeper meaning and offers another opportunity for engagement with their customers on a different emotional level.

 Building Partnership

  

It can also become a significant part of the brands social contribution policy. Without wishing to sound cynical, tying up with a worthy cause or charity can be a winning formula for brands sensitive to the current climate and worth serious consideration as part of your brand strategy.

 

 

4 Top Reasons Why Brands Should Engage in Cause Related Marketing

 

Whether sponsoring charitable activities or committing to donate profits to a worthy cause, the benefits to brands in aligning themselves with good causes are significant

 

1. Build Brand Awareness

Building partnerships with charities can make a sustainable difference to the cause but it also enables the brand to raise awareness with a wider target audience. Sponsoring a charitable activity often coincides with providing the brand with significant visibility of their logo and products with an engaged and receptive audience. It also provides a platform for brands that are looking to reposition themselves in the market, and change customer perceptions, with a great opportunity by aligning themselves with the right charity associated with the desired target market.

 

Charitable partnerships can make the brand more accessible to a wider audience particularly if the brand engages in an experiential marketing campaign. It also enhances a company’s credibility and provides an opportunity to educate the public about their products and services. Product sampling is also a great opportunity to attract new customer attention and commonly used by brands sponsoring charitable sporting activities.

 

 

2. Corporate Social Responsibility

Engaging in a strategy of corporate social responsibility through charitable partnerships displays a brand’s desire to make a positive contribution to social issues in the community.

 

It can also have a positive effect on the internal culture of the organisation. Charity partnerships provide the potential to boost employee engagement, and subsequently improve morale, as well as raising awareness among staff.

 

 Corporate Social Responsibility

 

HSBC has ties with environmental charity Earthwatch and sends employees to visit projects. ‘It is good for motivation and makes employees more likely to stay with the company and become effective brand ambassadors,’ says Nigel Pate, head of environmental partnerships at HSBC.

 

It can give a sense of purpose and involvement to employees. It highlights the importance of nurturing the strategy to support not just the corporate image but the wider stakeholders too. There is a sense of corporate pride amongst employees at being associated with a project that makes a positive impact in their world.

 

 

3. Differentiate the Brand from Competitors

Aligning your brand with a positive cause engenders a more caring image with customers. In markets where the variances between individual brand offerings becomes blurred, associating your brand with a significant social issue or charitable cause can give your customers a new reason to pick your brand over competitors in the market.

 

It is a way to communicate something about the brand that is beyond price, product or service. Brands who partner with charities or champion significant social issues often benefit from a boost in sales because, given the choice, customers are more likely to buy a brand that supports a worthy cause over a competitor who does not.

 O Egg White Eggs Icograda

 

O’Egg is a great example of an Irish brand with modest resources which has aligned itself with ‘Action Breast Cancer’. They operate in a market with weak brand differentiation and yet the O’Egg White Egg product in its bright pink packaging is very much targeted at a female audience. The cause has a very obvious relevance to its target market which has helped raise brand awareness and benefited the cause too.

 

 

4. Boost Brand Equity

Championing a social issue or engaging with charities is a worthy way to boost brand equity and invest in a little feel-good-factor. Aligning marketing activity with cause related issues enables brands to build a reputation with their target market and build an emotional connection can help strengthen brand loyalty.

 

Linking brand support to significant social issues or charities creates an emotive response alongside goodwill. Customers feel they are extending the value of their purchase to include a worthy cause investment and are more likely to be repeat purchasers. 

 

Flora Womens Marathon Dublin

  

Flora’s support of the woman’s mini marathon shows their customers that as a brand, they care about what their customers care about. They recognize their customers concerns and actively try to support them. Brand loyalty is strengthened and brand equity is boosted when the customer’s affinity with the brand extends beyond the product itself. 

 Red Products 

 

(RED) is an example of a long established initiative encompassing the support of some of the worlds biggest brands who have each committed to supporting charitable initiatives in Africa. Each brands dedicates a (RED) product in their product line to the cause.

 

 Red Brands

 

 

How to Beat the Cynics

For cause related marketing to work your customer must feel differently about your company and brands as a result of the association. The partnership must be relevant to the target customers in order to be trusted. The Nissan Leaf brand alignment to the issues of global warning, and its threat to the environment, is a great example of brand cause marketing, all of which is very relevant to their eco sensitive core target audience.

 

 

 

For the most part customers know that sponsorship of charitable causes or championing a significant social issue is not a form of corporate altruism but a strategic business move. Consequently brands need to be upfront and transparent as to the corporate motives behind the association. 

 

Partnerships must prove its credibility with customers before making any kind of direct product links. For this to be successful the commitment to the aim of the cause must be sincere. Long-term commitment is needed to create a degree of trust, and show that the partnership is more than just an add-on to other marketing activity.

 

Arts and charities sponsorships are cheaper than sports sponsorships and can generate profit and brand equity while boosting corporate social responsibility credentials and employee engagement.

 

In an uncertain economic climate where consumer trust in major consumer brands has been damaged, partnering with a worthwhile cause could be the best investment you make in your brand strategy in the year ahead.

 

What local, national or global cause could you authentically align your brand with, that would be congruent with your core brand values, relevant to your target audience and genuinely make a difference – show that you really care?