We are living in a new brand world

More than ever before, consumers are expecting responsibility, sustainability and compassion from brands. They are brand-savvy and have reached unprecedented levels of advertising fatigue. As a marketer, this is not an industry-threatening problem but the greatest opportunity to hit advertising and marketing since the advent of mass media. Telling consumers a story they can believe in, that truly makes a difference to people and the planet is the only way to remain relevant. This moves past the traditional Corporate Social Responsibility programs, which often resulted in nothing more than a plaque on a park bench or something similar – this is a radical rethinking of what a brand means to society.

As consumers expect more, brands will have to respond accordingly – aligning themselves with causes, issues and initiatives that are aligned with their brand values and market offering. We know it already, instinctively, but doing good is good business.

If brands come from society, and use society’s resources, they should give back to society

This new movement, dubbed ‘goodvertising’ seeks to produce advertising and communication that ticks all the traditional boxes but instead of taking from society, gives back instead. Whereas before, advertising was macho, demanding and disruptive – goodvertising is humble, inclusive and compassionate. Goodvertising promotes brands that do good for the good of society and across the board, consumers are responding positively. And why wouldn’t they? After being badgered, interrupted and spoken down to for years by brands, consumers want to get involved and want to feel that their brand choices do good for the world.

In a world where 51% of the world’s largest economies are now brands, not countries – it is time for brands to take responsibility and give back. In our current branded world, consumers vote for brands with their wallets just as much as they vote for governments. Except instead of being voted in every four years, brands are voted for every hour, minute and second. And it is this consumer endorsement which will pull brands around by the nose, if brands are lagging behind, or reward them with support, if they are acting in accordance with their consumers’ wishes. In a world where brands and corporations are so powerful, it is easy to forget where the true power lies in the brand/consumer relationship but when it boils down to it – it is all decided at the checkout counter.

Do you choose to lag behind and risk consumer apathy, or even hostility, or do you take three steps forward and delight consumers with your sustainable commitments?

As more brands commit to goodvertising and responsible and sustainable communication, the more consumers will expect other brands to follow suit. It’s a virtuous cycle we like to call the Circle of Good. The more brands join the party, the more it will become business as usual. And ultimately, the more good is done for people, the planet and business.

If the communications industry can be so influential as to convince people they need a new razor every year, with just one blade more than before, surely we can use those powers for good. We’ve got all the skills, talent and production resources needed to disseminate powerful, world-changing messages. Wouldn’t it be great if we turned those messages around and instead of saying: Consume the world we said: Preserve the world? We would all sleep better at night too.

A centralised archive and vibrant community of sustainable and responsible communication

When compiling our cases for the book, Goodvertising, we noticed that while there was certainly a trend towards more sustainable communication, there was no central source or archive where one could go and find this work. As a destination for both inspiration and sharing best-practices – we have created the first website of its kind in the world – WhereGoodGrows.

WhereGoodGrows is not just an archive; it is also a connected, vibrant and influential community. By selecting only the best work that is responsible and sustainable, as well as providing real-world results for its intended cause and for the brand or organisation behind it, we ensure that we showcase only the best communication, which benefits people, the planet and business. By holding up the very best and sharing these cases with the community, we hope to inspire them to push for the same outcomes in their own businesses and organisations. Lively discussion and honest sharing of knowledge are integral to our community.

We want you to take your very best ideas, and give them away.

To this end, we have developed the world’s first idea marketplace – where no money changes hands. Built upon our profound belief that communication really can change the world, we encourage open sharing of concepts and ideas for reappropriation and reimagining across the world through our SharedGood License. If the idea or concept behind a communications campaign in India can lower HIV infection rates, for example, why shouldn’t that same thinking be applied in South Africa? Or Malaysia? Or Botswana?

The more we share, the more good we can do. We are generous, fearless and optimistic. Together, we can achieve great things, and improve society, the planet and the way brands do business.

 

 

 

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Thomas Kolster © 2017
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