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The Power of Purpose: The Right Way For Brands to Take Stances On Social Issues

In a market that feels more competitive than ever before, brands are moving away from structured campaigns to long-term commitments towards doing social good.

At SMWTO 2018, Laura Pearce, Head of Consumer Marketing at Twitter Canada, shared how marketing leaders can help grow their brand to serve a greater purpose.

Consumers Want Brands That Share Their Values 

Photo Courtesy of Kim Lovell

In fact, 75 percent of people expect brands to make a contribution to their well-being and quality of life Pearce said, citing a 2017 study conducted by Havas Group. This means that consumer’s want brands to not only improve their own lives but improve the rest of the world, too.

“Consumers are buying based on a brand’s beliefs and they’re voting with their wallet in a lot of cases,” she said.

It’s important to remember that you’re not debating an issue, but instead, highlighting your brand’s beliefs in a way that reflects its overall values, Pearce explained.

Small Acts That Make Big Differences

One of the many great examples Pearce shared during her talk was the Tesco’s Tampon Tax Off campaign. The popular UK grocery store line educated viewers on the extra government tax included in women’s menstrual hygiene supplies.  Tesco showed that as a brand, they did not think this was okay and they pledged to pay those taxes, said Pearce.

In this campaign, Tesco ultimately showcased that they care about women’s rights, gender equality and people in lower income groups and they did something about it.

“You don’t have to be a big multinational global brand with million dollar spokespeople to do this, you can just take actions on things that you care about,” Pearce said.

Whether you’re a big company with lots of dollars or a small company on a modest budget, Pearce shares her advice for how your brand can take a stand for what they believe in.

5 Questions Brands Need to Consider Before Taking Stances on Social Issues 

1) Are you attuned to the tensions that your brand can address?

Brands need to be clear about where they stand on an issue and must be confident that consumers know your stance, too, Pearce explains. Use the knowledge you have about your consumers and pick a social issue that is related to your brand but isn’t going to touch on the day-to-day interactions you’ll be having with your audience.

2) Does your brand have a right or role to be here?

It’s important for brands to show their dedication and cause to a commitment in order to not come across as disingenuous, Pearce said. “For example, Bell has worked very hard to prove that they have a role and right to be talking about mental health for their popular Bell Lets Talk campaign,” she said. 

3) Are you doing or just saying?

Successful brands have an actual component of doing something that was different, especially in terms of donations and giving back.  “It’s not important to just say it, it’s important to show up and to do it,Pearce said.

4) Are all parts of your organization fully aligned?

Brands can’t take a stand and say we champion women’s rights” if you don’t have any female executives on your board, Pearce said. Brands need to walk the walk and ensure that it aligns with your values across the entire organization, she explained.

Brands must ensure that you can manage the hard stuff because people will be quick to call you out on very small things, especially in social media.” 

5) Will this stand up five years from now?

Ensure that your stance on the cause you choose will stand the test of time. Campaigns like Bell Let’s Talk continues to thrive after five years, and will likely continue to do so for at least five more, Pearce explained.

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