Sharing the same pedestal: purpose-led marketing
National creative director – brand & consumer experience
“PURPOSE MOVES US: Our purpose is to unite the world through sport to create a healthy planet, active communities, and an equal playing field for all”
This is the statement from Nike’s mini-site (https://purpose.nike.com/ ) dedicated to driving its purpose-led marketing.
Nike voices issues that need a platform. A platform created with media money, reaching out to a wide audience with a point of view. Nike is a brand that takes a stand on issues that matter to its consumers.
Today, socially conscious consumers are radically connected and have strong opinions. They don’t hesitate to share their views on social media, and get intensely involved in important conversations. A brand can play the role of an enabler in this environment.
Find a shared purpose
A shared purpose is like a pedestal on which a brand and consumers stand together. Every organization has a purpose, well-articulated in its vision and mission statements. That purpose should not stay only with employees and stakeholders. Consumers need to be part of it. Brands must share their overarching purpose and the subsets of that purpose to engage consumers. This is the only way you can move consumers emotionally closer to your brands.
Find partners with shared intentions
Brands need to create an eco-system of the right agencies and partners who can allow them to execute their purpose-led marketing with shared intentions. For instance, partnerships with broadcasters or media platforms that genuinely believe in a brand’s purpose, and are ready to partner for long term. Or partnerships with agencies that can help to connect the right dots and execute well on communicating your purpose to consumers.
Brand partners thus play a vital role in driving purpose-led marketing. More than commercial consideration, there has to be a commitment and intent to be available to each other and drive a shared purpose passionately. Fading out purpose-led content from your programming or marketing calendar because it doesn’t show immediate results is not the way to win on purpose. Consumers need to see a brand and its partners living out their values, time and again. That’s what brings credibility and trust.
Be creative to drive a purpose
In India, Idea Cellular (Now Vodafone Idea Cellular) famously created memorable advertising campaigns worthy enough to create purpose-led marketing. Their core proposition “What an Idea” took social issues and created quirky, solution-led propositions around them. Consumers used to wait for next campaign and how the brand would come up with the cleverest solutions to the problem at hand.
Though this was not explicitly purpose-led marketing, it certainly offered an example of a brand fully living out its core proposition while applying an abundance of creativity. Where it may have fallen short of its full potential, in my opinion, was in failing to invite consumers to “share the pedestal”: to bring consumers into a two-way conversation around an explicitly shared purpose.
Let consumers take the charge
There’s nothing more powerful than consumer-advocates when driving a brand’s purpose-led marketing. No, I am not talking about paid influencers talking about a cause and garnering views on social media. I am talking about an ecosystem of purpose-led marketing where consumers take charge of conversations with their own subsets of hashtags and topics.
If you enable consumers to express themselves creatively and innovatively, the rest will be taken care of by them. Be available to them with your purpose at platforms that enable consumers to create and distribute personalized content innovatively.
Don’t mix purpose up with CSR
Sometimes CSR is mistaken as purpose-led marketing. That’s cause-marketing, which needs to drive entirely different objectives. Purpose-led marketing is about driving your beliefs and standing by them, consistently. It’s true that purpose-led marketing can be on the borderline of a CSR activity, or integrated with it. But they are not the same. For example, “Periods should not be a taboo,” and, “Distributing free sanitary pads,” are two different marketing activities. They can surely go hand in hand, but purpose-led marketing is a two-way communication that needs consistent engagement.
Adapt to change
If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s the importance of adapting to change. For example, health and hygiene have become the purpose of many luxury brands that are now producing sanitizers in factories where they once made perfumes. A purpose may become redundant with unexpected changes in consumers’ lifestyles or category preferences. Embrace the change and align your purpose to the changed circumstances.
A brand’s core purpose can remain the same, but it has to adapt emerging situations. Take cues from consumers’ emotions and align your purpose-led marketing with them, in the framework of core purpose.
Measure ROI – Return on Intent
Well, you have to be responsible with the money you’re spending. But when driving a purpose, think expansively about value and return on investment. Measure impact and engagement in a variety of ways that go beyond immediate sales: for instance, in the ways that consumers spent emotional currency with the brand, and in the ways that consumers felt closer to the brand as a result of being invited into shared purpose.