Posts Tagged ‘Brand Cause’

“In a world where all products are increasingly the same, marketers have to appeal not to consumers rational decision making processes, but to their emotional ones. No stronger emotion exists than the need to belong” Douglas Atkin The Culting of Brands

In late 2010 I ranked the UK’s leading brands by how effective they were at marshalling a brand movement. I did this by measuring how active their advocates were – how often their  advocates recommended them to others. We then studied the top performing brands and  found that they displayed four key characteristics that we concluded are necessary to create a vibrant brand movement.

1. A Cause.

At the heart of any brand movement is a cause. This is the belief system that an audience buy into and champion. These belief systems tend not to appeal to everyone, but for some they create an intense sense of belonging.

Lifebouy soap is a great example of a brand cause. How do you create a great sense of belonging, amongst mums, around a bar of soap? Unilever’s solution, noting that hygiene standards in the third world was the primary cause of child deaths, was to develop the cause of helping to halve these deaths in the world. What mum wouldn’t want to support a cause like this.

2. Communities

Around the cause, successful brand movements foster, build and support vibrant communities. On and offline they encourage regular contact between members, develop shared experiences, co-create agendas, build their own symbols and most importantly actively encourage peer to peer recruitment. Kelloggs do this well with Special K

There are four different community segments that influence brand movements – Personal (friends,family, work colleagues), Expert (doctors etc.), Social (Mumsnet, Woman Institute), Media (newspapers, magazines etc.). These can be easily measured for impact and influence to identify those who will deliver the greatest return.

3. Contagious Stories

Research has shown that stories stick better than facts and figures. If you were raising money for children in Africa, a real boys story would raise twice as much as the cold facts and figures behind any plight. Leaders of brand movements need to become expert storytellers, sugar coating their messages with stories that will get retold. Great stories have a structure and many blue chip organisations use this as a framework for their external communications.

4. Campaigning

Movements die if they are not constantly fuelled by new thinking and disruptive content. Our 24/7 world has increased the ‘wear out’ of brand ideas ten fold since the dawn of the internet. A great multi million pound advert today, can be viewed a million times on Youtube tomorrow and then forgotten by next week. Unless it starts a conversation,that is further fuelled and re-energised, the movement will wither and die. Brands today need to campaign for their Cause, taking the threads of conversations that appear  each day in Newspapers, on Facebook or around the Coffee machine and inject their point of view. As Seth Godin says, if you stand still you become invisible. It’s why many brands today are setting up campaign teams, editorial teams and newsrooms.

Movements are the future of brands. Bain & Associates have proven this conclusively with their Net promoter Score measure. The challenge for marketing and communication managers today is to mastermind the creation and maintenance of these movements. The 4C’s provides a framework to support this.

4C’s Copyright Richard Moss 2012


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If you don’t represent me and what I care about, then get lost! In the world where executive power has moved out of the boardroom and onto the street, where there are a 1000 choices in life when one will do, where the values and behaviours of a brand have become as important as their benefits -brands have a simple choice. Become an extension of their consumers lives – thinking and acting as they would, or die.

Research conducted by BritainThinks this month should therefore be especially interesting to brand marketeers. They asked consumers to think about which brands best represented them and their lives today. The top three answers – Apple, Sony and M&S.

The research is interesting, but the insight behind it is key. In marketing today, in my opinion, three questions rule.

1. Do I represent my  consumers – fight their cause?

2. Do I behave as they would wish?

3. Do they recommend my brand?

The research can be accessed by clicking on the link below:-

TimeCapsule Research – Most Defining Brands 2011

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Winston ChurchillTo activate your advocates you need to start with a cause (or a rallying cry). Something your stakeholders feel passionate about. Something they will take on themselves and champion on your behalf.

Climate change is a subject that we all feel pretty passionate about these days. What a great cause to champion if you are an energy producer? EDF clearly felt so when they developed Green Britain Day (which happened last week).

Unfortunately for EDF, not everybody has been so supportive. An article in the Guardian last week raised a number of searching questions, ranging from the company’s own green track record to the roots of the company itself (it’s French).

I have no idea how EDF stacks up versus its competition, but I guess this shows the care that needs to be taken today when choosing a cause. In today’s radically transparent world, you only have one option and that is to reflect reality. If you are trying to lead on an behavioural change issue, make sure you are exhibiting the right behaviours first.

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