In a recent survey done by Havas (found here), they found that “63 percent of baby boomers said they expect more than just a product from a brand… Seventy-six percent of Gen Xers, 84 percent of millennials and 87 percent of Gen Zers believe brands need to do more” and of those surveyed, “55 percent… believe companies have a greater responsibility than the government does to create a better future for people.”
So what does this mean for your brand?
Well, it means you have to stand for something. Gone are the days of brands just being able to get by with churning out product and selling it to their customers. Brands of this era need to have a reason to exist. And that reason needs to be about making people’s lives and futures better.
So how would you do this?
The first thing I’d suggest is taking a cold hard look at your brand. Be really introspective and scrutinise why you’re in the business you are in. If the only reason you can come up with is to make a profit, you need to dig a little deeper. Now, I’m not saying you can only be in business if you want to save the world. What I am saying is that you need to look beyond your business and see how your brand affects the greater community and what are the things your brand can do that cause a positive impact. For example, if you’re in the banking industry, your reason for being doesn’t have to be “seeing the end of poverty”, but instead, it could be something more focused and tangible like “empowering financial literacy”.
Now you have a reason for being, what do you do with it?
It’s all well and good to have a reason for being, especially since it will give your customers and staff something to believe in, but if that reason for being is not tied to a relevant cause, you may as well not even have a purpose. After all, what good is a cart without a horse? The horse in this scenario being the cause that will help drive the cart that is your brand’s purpose. By tying your purpose in with a cause, you give it more legitimacy. You show your audience that you are serious about making a difference in their lives and in the world.
So how do you find a cause that suits your brand?
That’s an easy one; research and network. Do your homework, look at other brands within your sphere and see what causes they’re getting behind. Or look at the causes that deserve more attention and use your brand to shed light on otherwise neglected issues. If you want to go beyond that, you can even start your own movement (like Patagonia and ThankYou group did). As long as you are genuine about the reason your brand exists in this world, you should have no problem finding a relevant cause.
So you’ve found your cause, what happens now?
Being a brand nowadays means so much more than just providing a product or a service. It is about empowering people, improving their lives, and creating better futures. If your brand, products or service can do all of the above, the future is yours, my friend.