When our pessimistic view of ‘others’ is reflected back at us by a sensationalist media we tend to believe that civilisation is but a thin veneer. ‘Others’ can be portrayed as selfish, untrustworthy, and dangerous, with their bestial natures just waiting to break out. In truth this premise is unfounded as humans are basically decent, compassionate, cooperative, and kind. We aim to be our best selves. Powerful global challenges to our well-being from Covid-19 and climate change to human and civil activism, has led us to recognise the power of the collective to provoke dynamic societal change, and foster community. ‘Me’ has morphed into ‘we’. This cultural shift is extending to brands.
Brands are more focused than ever on championing ethical, human-centred, and sustainable processes to craft purposeful design, strategies, and outcomes, to build better futures for humankind.
Brands are setting aside their competitive natures and differences to work together for the greater good, such as the cooperation between pharmaceutical companies for the Covid pandemic, building brand unity and solidarity in messaging — “you can’t stop us”, scaling focus in favour of building a sense of community good and partnership, becoming climate positive by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and leading the circular economy by rethinking and shifting the focus to recycling resources and eliminating waste. While brands may not have advocated for moral or ethical responsibility in the past, they certainly are now.
How brands behave matters more than ever to consumers. According to an IBM survey published in 2020, 40% of consumers are purpose driven in their purchases. Purpose is going mainstream with brand safety monitors popping up to scrutinise corporate behaviour, and platforms and channels, to respond to this growing ethical motivation amongst consumers. Brands are putting their values front and centre.
The communication of a brand’s values goes far beyond its products; it includes everything from brand actions to treatment of employees, to the context in which its ads appear, to generosity and empathy in marketing campaigns, to helping consumers to successfully navigate their way through the pandemic. Understanding consumer values gives brands new ways of forging deeper relationships with consumers that will pay off in greater consumer loyalty and help grow consumer lifetime value.
Brand safety is the latest consideration when communicating brand values. In this values-driven new world, brands need to be proactively highlighting their ethics and socially conscious practices, such as your media buy aligning to your values. Context is king, and tone is key. Companies need to constantly monitor their advertising and media mix environment. The rising class of vigilant consumers will call you to account.
In a time of pandemic madness and hardship, consumers are holding brands to higher standards and marketers are consequently seeking to uplift people by humanising their brands. We care for ourselves by caring for others. Whilst there is light at the end of the pandemic tunnel, many still need help and reassurance. Consumers will look back at these historic times and remember those that stepped forward and helped — is that you?
The message is that we all, brands and consumers alike, have a role to play in uplifting others by providing hope, and in doing so we are ourselves are uplifted.
When brand purpose aligns with consumer values it is win/win for both.