Trends with benefits

Brand-Standing Steps Forward

April 9, 2019 - Branding - , , , , , , , , , , ,

You don’t need a wily, 19th century Indian (I’m deliberately taking this cultural risk) shading his eyes to spot what’s coming at us that will shape marketing in 2020. Get ready to wade into the high-volume river of data and new marketing opportunities that technology keeps pushing at us in powerful streams.

The undercurrent of today’s marketing planning is the buffet of easy and economical ways to reach and cultivate niche markets. And as you squint to see what’s next, you’ll get a much clearer view of what you should be doing if you take a moment to check that your strategy and tactics take advantage of not only relevant new software and technologies, but the essential wrap that frames all marketing messages: the cultural context.

And if you just rolled your eyes, give me 30 more seconds to explain.  How you and your brand fits within the cultural context – a set of shared societal values — can make or lose you money. Lots of it.

There’s no denying that the awareness created by #MeToo has shaped a major media narrative, news coverage, advertising, social content and boardroom decisions at almost every level over the past 18 months. Just ask Joe Biden, Robert Kraft or Bill Cosby. And consider Gillette’s decision to debut “The Best Men Can Be” campaign during the SuperBowl promoting respect for women. These are big, momentous cultural statements.

“Brand-standing,” or the more corporate description of “social responsibility,” is a very real factor that shapes perceptions and consumer response that can very quickly add or subtract value for any company, large or small. There are tomes of consumer research that prove people in almost all socio-economic groups prefer companies that “do good” in the world, way beyond the primary goal of money-making.

While Nike risked consumer fury with its Colin Kaepernick ad campaign last year, it banked on knowing the social and political views of its primary (young male) core customer. They gambled, went big in the campaign rollout, and won. After an initial backlash, Nike sales soared. The “free” publicity from taking a strong social stand on a hot-button issue paid off. Consumers are very loyal to the brands they love – those brands that feel like an extension of themselves.

The CEO of Audible, based in Newark, NJ wants the beleaguered city to thrive, and awards by lottery 20 employees a year’s free rent if they agree to live within the city limits. Patagonia has filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration to stop the effort to shrink Utah’s protected Bear Ears National Monument, supporting its campaign with expensive television spots to rally supporters to the cause.

You can see where this is going. Turns out that doing good is good business, with the side-hustle of… actually doing some good.


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