What is your brand’s purpose?
Identifying the right purpose for your brand is difficult enough. The right execution, it turns out, is even harder.
Once upon a time, in a land not-so-far away, a brand’s role was pretty simple and straight forward.
Get the right product, sell it, rinse and repeat.
Today, however, it’s a whole lot more complex than that.
For the past 10 years or so, brands have been building digital audiences in the hope of turning them into (marketing jargon alert) tribes/advocates/passionate followers.
Turning someone who has simply purchased something functional into a full-time raving advocate for your brand, however, is tricky. It needs to go way beyond product.
It’s about culture, ethos, cause and identity.
And from a consumer’s perspective, it’s an expectation.
Today, research shows that 75 per cent of customers across the globe have an expectation that brands contribute to their wellbeing and quality of life.
For Millennials, it’s bordering on critical levels – 71 per cent will choose a brand that drives social and environmental change.
Brand purpose – can you go too far?
You only need to mention the word ‘Gillette’ and everyone will know what you’re talking about – the brand’s purpose-driven campaign The Best Men Can Be.
So on a very cynical level, at least, you can say it’s had the desired effect.
By tapping into a topical purpose, Gillette has made a stance. A very, very strong stance.
It’s attempting to contribute to wellbeing. It’s attempting to improve quality of life. It’s attempting to drive social change.
Tick, tick, tick.
The brand’s existing tagline ‘The best a man can get’ made it an easy adaptation, and whether you agree or disagree with the brand taking that stance, and the manner in which it was portrayed, the decision to attempt to ‘make a difference’ is certainly a brave one.
But was it seriously misguided?
Short-term pain … for long-term gain?
At the time of writing, the campaign hasn’t exactly met with universal approval.
Far, far from it.
The YouTube ad has been viewed 27 million times, however while it’s attracted around 750,000 ‘thumbs up’, there are almost double the amount of ‘thumbs down’.
And the comments section is a minefield. There are accusations of comments being deleted and down votes being turned into up votes.
There are thousands and thousands of vows to never buy Gillette products again.
The major issue has been that Gillette’s creative has majorly insulted and alienated a proportion of their customers.
There’s also a striking – and presumably very deliberate – creation of a good vs bad racial division in the ad that has heightened negative feeling even more.
Of course, strong brand purpose will alienate some people. The aim is it attracts more than it loses, and deepens and strengthens the relationship with those that remain.
And causes change.
A brand’s purpose – getting it right
As a marketer you applaud the bravery of the brand to take a stance, and as a brand you can’t change that stance. Not quickly, anyway.
Gillette has to own this position, build on it and evolve it. And it seems committed to doing so – it has reportedly pledged $1 million per year for the next three years to men’s charities
Brand purpose cannot be a one-campaign-wonder, so exploring carefully with your customers – and would be customers – is imperative.
While the wave of initial reaction hasn’t been universally positive, sales in the immediate aftermath, according to the brand at least
, haven’t been affected. They’ve not gone up, but they’ve not declined, either.
Whether there’ll be a significant movement either way in the long term remains to be seen – however, you get the feeling that, in years to come, this is going to be a landmark case study in brand purpose.
Which way the story ends, though, is open to much, much debate.
Revolutionize your brand.