Branding Today Is About Doing The Right Thing

branding

There are many things I love about Oprah.

She’s an accomplished businesswoman, a generous human being, and her life’s goal is to make the world a better place than she left it.

She is an extreme example, but nevertheless, she is an individual who is the definition of what a modern brand should look like. Not because of the content she shares and the products she endorses, but because every layer of her brand is authentic. People watch her shows and buy her products because it’s genuine to who she is and what she stands for. If she endorses something, it’s meaningful. Her brand is reliable, recognizable, and comes with a standard of quality.

She herself has said:

“Let excellence be your brand. When you are excellent, you become unforgettable. Doing the right thing, even when nobody knows you’re doing the right thing will always bring the right thing to you.”

Whether you’re a fan of Oprah or not, this advice is powerful.

Transparency and authenticity are more important than ever. Brands need to stand for something, and many are beginning to align themselves with social and political issues.

Below, we’ll dig into why branding today is about doing the right.

branding

It used to be that the foundation of a brand was their logo. Do you remember those days?

Every business is a brand of some sort. But today, everything you do in business is part of your branding. From the tweets you put out to the font on your letterhead, to the level of diversity in your board room, it all matters.

Brands are moving beyond the hype of “marketing for good” to embrace something even deeper, humane capitalism, as they attempt to appeal to modern consumers who want their products to be aspirational as well as ethically sound.

Are You Doing “Good” Work?

I put “good” in quotation marks because there are so many ways to define this.

  1. Are you doing quality work?
  2. Are you genuinely helping people (whether it be your clients or the greater good)?
  3. Do you feel good about the work you are doing?

This may have been a laughable question half a century ago. When my parents were young the plan was to go to college and get a job that would provide a nice salary. Things like work/life balance and having a meaningful career were not even part of the discussion. Now, millennials want jobs that can provide a nice living but also match their passions in some way as well as give their lives meaning.

Aside from wanting to work for companies that provide some sort of meaning, millennials also seek out companies who align with their beliefs. 75% of millennials say they actively research the behavior and policies of the brands they buy. Your branding matters – at every level.

It’s Not About You, It’s About the Community

There is no question that brands and agencies are focusing more on defining and communicating their “purpose” than ever before. Specifically when it comes to social media, companies are spending a lot less time talking about how great they are, and a lot more time sharing meaningful content that can connect them intimately to their audience.

Do you think its a coincidence that Facebook recently started focusing on Groups? Groups are where individuals of different niches can go to find information, ask questions, and get support. Whether you’re mourning the end of Game of Thrones or struggling to figure out a complex medical issue, there are groups for everything.

A Shifting Culture

Many in the industry believe that marketers need to shift their focus from simply changing consumer behavior to actively helping them bridge the gap between intent and action. Matthew Phillips, co-founder of Beautiful Corporations, explains that businesses need to move on from simply spouting lots of words about purpose and sustainability to taking action.

“In the past, consumers have been given a choice – do you want to buy the ‘good’ product at a premium or a ‘bad’ one – and often the decision comes down to price. But we are going to see more brands offering consumers the option of ‘good’ or ‘good’.” It is a shift, he believes, that has already been embraced by brands such as Ikea and Nike.

Even with this cultural shift, marketers, as the voice of consumers in their organizations, still have a leading role to play in ushering in this new era.

Final Thoughts

I think it’s important to note that there is no way for anyone externally to do define what is “right” or “good” for your brand. Only your team can define your company’s core values – who the target consumers are, and what is important and meaningful to both you and them.

Because at the end of the day, this new wave of consumers are going to be mindful of the company, and the people behind it, when they choose to make a purchase.

What steps are you taking to make sure you’re doing the right thing when it comes to your branding?


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Brooke B. Sellas is the in-the-trenches Founder & CEO of @HelloBSquared, an award-winning social media, advertising, and customer care agency. She's also the Co-host of The Marketing Companion podcast with Mark Schaefer, where they discuss jaw-dropping marketing trends. Brooke's marketing mantra is “Think Conversation, Not Campaign” so be sure to give her a shout!
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