By Scott Goodson, CEO StrawberryFrog
Activate Brand Purpose, our new book, deals with the challenging part of brand purpose for brand leaders. Toothless brand purpose is giving it all a bad name isn’t it? Toothless as defined as having found your ‘why,’ (or in other words: your purpose) and launched it to the rapturous applause of the C-Suite, but no more. So it sits beautifully framed on your wall.
Competitive advantage comes from differences across companies. This means brand leaders need to find ways to increase their customers’ willingness to pay. But more, you need to do it in a manner that is differentiated from the competition. And so at the heart of brand strategy sits purpose as a way to be creative and relevant in doing just that. McKinsey tells us that more than 87% of consumers would purchase a product with a purpose they cared about, and more than two-thirds would refuse to do so if the company supported an issue contrary to their beliefs.
To do well, your brand needs to be about more than just profit.The world is full of problems to be solved. Each one of those represents immense opportunity for brands. Why focus on ideas the world does not need, when there’s good business in solving problems? The key is designing a purpose that is relevant to your brand or brand benefit. In our new book, Activate Brand Purpose, we talk about working with brand leaders to design purpose and then activate it with Movement Thinking™, a proven framework that StrawberryFrog brought to the world two decades ago for brands such as Heineken, Jim Beam and Pampers. Movement Thinking has changed behavior and minds for generations. Now it’s time for brand leaders to apply this to drive tangible change. Our economy and our world need it. And these brands will be rewarded.
When we work with brand leaders through Movement Thinking™, I often ask what is the mood in your strategy meetings? Is it effective, efficient, serious…how often do you feel emotionally vulnerable? How often do you laugh? In those moments you can be really creative and innovative. Purpose helps you come up with crazy, positive ideas. You feel inspired by what team members have to say. Thinking in terms of activating purpose is at its core a creative endeavor–and the key challenge is moving from having a brand purpose to implementing it. Activating brand purpose helps in improving collaboration on your brand team which helps in the activation phase as many brand managers find this highly complex because it is.
We make the case that activation is actually pretty simple when you use Movement Thinking™. It helps make work more attractive for you and your brand team — your dream job in that this is incredibly motivating to you and your team. And equally important, motivating for your consumers. All things being equal, in a competitive brand market, activating brand purpose in an original and powerful way, perhaps the best way to add value to your consumers. This requires a change in mindset, even if you are a short-term sales organization focused on finding ways to convince consumers to buy your products every week, you need to change the way you think about the business.
In our book, we speak to numerous business leaders. When they activate purpose, they are aware that it will lead to business success. You can think innovatively. You can think creatively. When you, as a business leader, launch a Movement to activate your purpose, it energizes your entire team. This accelerates the speed with which you go to market and brings in passionate advocates and people who believe in what you’re trying to accomplish. If you believe you’re on the right path and that your brand exists to create value, it’s spectacular what brands can do. If you look at the brands that are successful, that’s what they do–they evangelize their ideas. By building movements that are not only relevant to stakeholders but actually tackle some of the most pressing issues facing society today, companies create a positive perception with stakeholders from all walks of life.
The business value of engagement by the culture as a result of a successful movement includes earned media (on top of paid media) and greater penetration, conversion, and loyalty through word of mouth. Net, net they help build market share. Moreover, the Movement framework provides for a content strategy that 1) creates brand reputation 2) demonstrates how the brand is developing wow products/services that address real consumer pain points, and 3) zooms into specific product features that reinforce the reasons to believe in the movement plus tangible incentives to engage with the brand.
When we help brand leaders implement brand purpose inside their teams, there isn’t a lot of love for traditional bureaucratic business practices. We help move them from being overly concerned about budget concerns because the value of activated purpose shows up in your financials in indirect ways. The willingness for consumers to buy your products is affected by your activated purpose, by generating loyalty. Financial planning processes around purpose miss the boat a little bit. We often have teams work through our FrogLogic process at StrawberryFrog, we have them think about what are the purpose-led drivers that affect consumer willingness to pay. And then look at a brand’s performance relevant to the competition–of course this only matters if you are providing the best value for money in a competitive market. Activating purpose matters because it helps you differentiate the brand from the competition. When we work with brand management to think through this complexity, we map out in a simple way where your brand is, where the competitors are, and how you can use purpose to change your value proposition moving forward.
If you do a value mapping of your brand and you identify problems to solve to catch your competitors such as providing a better customer service, well what happens when you do that? You are more like your competitors. And in this situation how will the customer choose? Well the customer will choose based on price. But if consumer willingness to pay is the same, how are consumers supposed to choose? By activating brand purpose, we are helping brands find a way to get ahead of the competition, and in a way that achieves the greatest impact for the investment, you make to activate your purpose. This helps you not simply catch up with your competitors, but rather accelerate your pulling ahead. Regardless of the industry you are in, you should be optimistic about the gains your brand can make if you activate purpose in a way that generates tangible gains for your consumers. How you do this is the subject of our new book Activate Brand Purpose.
About the Authors:
Scott Goodson, is the founder and CEO of StrawberryFrog and the co-author of “Activate Brand Purpose.” For the last 25 years, he has worked with some of the world’s most iconic companies including Google, Emirates Airlines, Heineken, Coca-Cola, Jim Beam, Mercedes, Mahindra and Walmart. He invented the concept of Movement Thinking, an approach that uses the principles of societal movements to solve marketing and leadership challenges. Scott has lectured on the subject at Harvard Business School, Columbia, Cambridge, and has appeared in the New York Times, Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Economist, Harvard Business Review.
Chip Walker, based in New York, is the head of strategy and a partner at StrawberryFrog and the co-author of “Activate Brand Purpose.” He’s recognized for his expertise in brand creation and re-invention, and has led the charge in transforming brands such as Goldman Sachs, Lexus, Bank of America, Jim Beam, and Heineken. Chip is a frequent speaker at some of the branding world’s major events, including the Cannes Lions Festival, the Advertising Research Foundation, Sustainable Brands and the Conference Board. His writing and opinions have appeared widely in places like Adweek, the New York Times, Chicago Tribune and CNBC.