If you were asked what your brand does and how it does it, you could probably answer this quite easily, couldn't you? What you might find trickier is explaining why you do it. But this sense of purpose can be key to successful campaigns, which is why it is imperative you know exactly what yours is and keep it at the front and centre of everything you do.
Whether this purpose is environmental, cultural, social or political – it should be timely, make sense for your company and be something you are committed to. Don’t insincerely jump on a bandwagon as this won’t bear up to much scrutiny.
Your sense of purpose can differentiate you from your competitors and emotionally engage consumers through a shared belief and passion, creating loyalty as a result. According to research from Accenture, nearly two-thirds (63%) of global consumers would prefer to purchase from brands with a purpose, while Kantar found that the valuation of brands with a high sense of purpose has increased 175% over 12 years.
One brand that knows exactly what its purpose is, and has embodied it more than ever in a new campaign, is Dove.
When you look at images of women used in advertising do you see yourself? Or do you see what is deemed to be ‘perfection,’ that makes you strive to be something you’re not?
If you don't feel represented in the imagery used in the media and advertising, you're not alone - a staggering 70% of women feel this way.
We have long been shown an idealised version of our gender. This was particularly obvious when we examined the advertising industry for International Women's Day 2019. It has set unrealistic expectations that we have struggled to live up to and has had a detrimental effect as we try to achieve these impossible standards of beauty.
Dove is a brand that has long championed real women and shown diversity in its own advertising. But, Dove knows that this is not enough and it now aims to change the issue on a much wider scale with its new campaign #ShowUs.
This won't be the first time the brand has challenged the stereotypical images of women.
Last year its Image_Hack campaign 'hacked the industry from the inside.' Dove teamed up with Mindshare Denmark and uploaded images that subvert stereotypes to Shutterstock, tagging them with words that are used to describe women in an objectifying way.
This year, Dove is going one step further to raise the body confidence of women across the world by making changes at the source of the issue and partnering with those that have the power to do this.
Did you know that fewer than 5% of the images in the media are taken by women? Unsurprisingly, those unobtainable female beauty ideals that are so troublesome are being determined by the male gaze. This perhaps goes some way to explaining why 66% of women feel that limited body shapes and sizes are represented and why 64% say scars and freckles are not seen in beauty images.
At the same time there is a clear yearning for more realistic imagery with the search term 'real people' up by 192% in the last year on Getty Images as well as 'strong women' which is up by 187% and 'diverse women' by 168%.
To try to tackle this, Dove has spent the last two years creating an image library with Getty Images and Girlgaze.
It chose Girlgaze - a team of female identifying and non-binary photographers - to put the marginalised behind the camera in order to change what is in front of it.
The result; 5000 images from 39 countries - the largest stock photo collection of women, taken by women. Local photographers were used to break down stereotypes while the image library itself was unedited and shows an accurate representation of women of all races, religions, cultures, sexualities, shapes and sizes. And, for the first time, those photographed defined their own search description and tags - they were given the freedom to define their own beauty.
The brand is now calling on the media and advertisers to actually use these photos so we can begin to see a change and women can start to see themselves.
Dove is just one of Unilever’s brands that focus on sustainability and is growing 50% faster than all the others.
The Body Shop has long been known as an ethical business and cemented this with its commitment to ‘enrich not exploit,’ aiming to become the ‘world’s most ethical and sustainable business.’
Its three principles are: enrich our people, enrich our products and enrich our planet. The brand has set itself 14 targets to continue working towards its purpose, including using 100% sustainably sourced natural ingredients by 2020.
All aspects of the business adhere to this, from the ingredients and packaging to the suppliers and employees. Plus, this purpose is at the forefront of all its activism campaigns including the recent ‘Forever Against Animal Testing.’
The brand’s founder, Anita Roddick, said: “The business of business should not be about money. It should be about responsibility. It should be about public good, not private greed.”
Mastercard’s ‘Priceless’ campaign has been the face of its purpose-driven branding for 20 years. Last year it evolved into ‘Start Something Priceless’ with the aim of encouraging people to pursue a passion and do something they have always wanted to do.
At the time, chief marketing and communications officer, Raja Rajamannar said: “Start Something Priceless is a call to action at a time when people expect actions, not just ads, from brands.” He continued: “This is a time when people truly believe in their own power to fuel change, and whether big or small, an action has the ability to make the world a better place. The movement is what we aim to unleash this year.”
The credit card brand had good intentions and has moved its campaign on from ‘story-telling to story-making to story-inspiring.’ But, unfortunately, it applied its purpose to the wrong campaign which was described as the ‘worst marketing campaign ever’ by prominent ex-Arsenal striker Ian Wright.
During the 2018 football World Cup, Mastercard announced that it would provide 10,000 meals to starving children for every goal scored by Lionel Messi and Neymar, both during the tournament and after until March 2020. Instead of positioning the brand as charitable it was seen as mean, with many expressing disbelief at the subject being part of a marketing campaign. Ian Wright couldn’t believe the campaign had been signed off while chief football writer at Times Sport, Henry Winter, tweeted: ‘Why not give them the meals anyway...’
It’s worth noting here that Dove doesn’t always get it right either – the brand received a huge amount of backlash for its advert which showed a black woman turning into a white woman. The campaign was quickly removed, but not before the brand had been accused of racism.
This just goes to show that knowing your purpose, keeping it at the forefront and, most importantly, ensuring it aligns with your campaigns is vital for success. It also shows how even some of the world’s biggest brands suffer when their purpose is misdirected.
In his book and TED Talk 'Start with Why', Simon Sinek says many brands know what they do and how they do it but very few know why they do it. He says the ‘why’ should not be to make a profit - that will be the result. ‘Why’ is your purpose - the reason that your organisation exists.
Most brands start with what, how and then why - inspired organisations do it the other way around. In essence, Sinek says, people don't buy what you do; they buy how you do it. If you don't know why, how can you possibly expect the consumer to know?
The biggest brands in the world inspire and innovate. Pioneers in this approach – who paved the way for the likes of Dove – include Apple with its 'Think Different' campaign and Nike’s 'Maybe It's My Fault'. Nike dares you to be the best athlete you can be, while Apple wants you to have the tools to change the world and be ground breaking in your industry.
Likewise, Dove is encouraging you to be proud of who you are and how you look - blemishes and all. The end goal, of course, is for you to buy its product but Dove wants real women to feel empowered, not to be faced with unrealistic images on a daily basis that do nothing but knock their confidence.
In fact, if you look at the brand’s Instagram bio it doesn't reference what it sells at all. Instead it tells you why, proclaiming: “We're taking action with women everywhere to shatter beauty stereotypes around the world.”
If you don't know what your purpose is, harness the power of public opinion to help find it. This generation of youngsters is passionate about change and wants to make it happen and you can tap into this.
Think how can your brand inspire others? Dove is moving on from showing diversity in its own images and wants to make industry-wide changes. What do you stand for? How can you meet a need or solve a problem? Ultimately, you want to be known for more than your product, while consumers want you to take a stand on the issues they are passionate about.
There's no better way right now to attract consumers to your brand than by doing something positive. Making people feel bad about themselves so they need to buy your product is an outdated marketing technique. It isn't just about your product anymore; it's about creating an identity and building a loyal following of consumers that come back time and time again. Do this through picking a cause that you and they care deeply about.
Dove isn't just profiting from making women feel like they need its products to be beautiful; it’s actually inspiring self-confidence to encourage them to be loyal brand advocates.
Next time you are looking for a picture of a woman for your marketing material, why not consider using imagery from this library of photos to play your part in a worthy cause?
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