We live in an age where increasingly “woke” consumers are tuning in more and more to brands that resonate with their social beliefs. With the rise of social activism, be it BLM, LGBTQIA+, Gender and/or Race Equality or Climate Change, brands can no longer remain silent. As brand custodians, marketers and creatives, we should realise the power we have over consumer choices. And with great power comes great (social) responsibility. Marketing for social impact means that we not only strengthen customer relationships but also perpetuate positive social change.
As the realities of global issues are becoming more apparent, we need to build up brands and ourselves to weather and grow through shifts in global perspectives. Brands can provide an additional outlet for consumers to express their voice in these issues. Aligning the brands’ social purpose or mission with their consumers social beliefs makes for a win-win situation. More importantly, it improves the charities’ beneficiaries lives and makes better social impact.
This realignment is not as simple as donating funds to a charity. For a more meaningful and lasting social impact in your marketing strategies, brands need to sync what the brand stands for, with what it stands UP for. We need to consider many aspects of the social cause, business and brand, in order to align them successfully. While at the same time, avoiding potential long term negative effects. Here are 4 tips to consider in order to create marketing strategies that integrate social impact.
Fit your brand’s persona with a social cause for maximum impact
Looking into your brand’s archetype, persona, and heritage may be a good starting point in determining social cause. Ask yourself, if your brand is a person, what are its values? A deep dive into this helps you identify the social needs your brand is well positioned to address. Take Dove for example. A natural extension to its core line of products was to champion all kinds of beauty. Their marketing and messaging strategies effectively increased its social impact and resonance with its persona and main audience.
Maybe you’re an outdoor sporting brand, manufacturing hiking gear and equipment. Then perhaps aligning your marketing with environmental causes might fit with your brand’s persona and core buyer personas. This effectively elevates the customer-brand connection from a transactional one into one that helps consumers become part of a larger movement. And it’s also because consumers want to make a social impact as well.
Transform me into we
The cause your brand champions should permeate all levels of your organisation. Make it a team effort. By embracing a social cause, your brand also provides your team with a purpose. This energizes work and adds meaning to everything that you do. As ambassadors to your brand, your team is an additional medium your brand can tap to champion both business goals and social purpose.
This also extends to business partners that the brand associates itself with. Other companies adopting a similar cause may provide an excellent opportunity when considering co-branding to jointly advance marketing and social cause objectives. If nothing else, be the brand that inspires other brands to adopt a cause, create a domino effect and make an even bigger social impact.
Put the social in social impact
Social media can be another great vehicle to reflect the social cause your brand has chosen to embrace. Start incorporating your social cause message into your social media strategy and content marketing for greater impact. It provides a creative way to express your brand’s views outside of product or tactical messages. Social media also helps expose your cause to a large audience making an impact that can be seen globally. Showcasing your cause on social media also helps build up your brand’s persona as one whose goals are not necessarily only sales oriented. This helps consumers see your brand as a “person”, with its own sets of personality and beliefs that they can relate to. Which leads us to the next most important point.
Go all the way
It should go without saying that a social cause should be embraced holistically and authentically. Practice what you preach. If racial equality is your brand’s social cause then not only should you align yourself with and support charitable organisations, but also practice equitable HR policies. Marketers and creatives alike should strive to overcome psychological biases. This enables them to then push out marketing materials and all types of advertising free from discrimination. Especially in this day and age where information is readily available at our fingertips, consumers can more easily suss out if your support for a social cause is faked. Being accused of greenwashing by your audience is damaging to your brand’s reputation.
Brand custodians, marketers and creatives all want for high engagement with their brands and advertising campaigns. What better way to do it than appealing to consumers’ social beliefs and then following it through with tangible results that benefit real people in need.
We now are living in pivotal times of social and economic upheaval. How well brands react to these changes will prove their resilience, relevance and even, creativity. But this has never been a better time to seize this as what it is – an opportunity for brands to have a social purpose alongside a business one. People are craving for change and we as marketers need to recognise the power consumers wield with their purchasing habits and our influence over them.