Today most brands have a solid commitment to a mission and vision. That’s good news. But how do you translate your brand story into concrete actions? How do you attract a target audience that supports your brand's vision and consistently picks your products or services over those of your competitors? We would love to help you find your way with social positioning.
What is the value of positioning your brand socially? Well, it's good for your reputation, for your customers, and for your sales. Read on to discover the impact your words and actions can have.
In essence, a brand is little more than an answer to the question: “Who are you and where do you want to go?”. It gives your customers a reason to build a relationship with your organisation and to specifically choose your products or services.
By taking a position on social issues, you encourage people to build a stronger bond with your brand. Just think of Douwe Egberts, which uses their products (coffee) as a way to promote social cohesion and conviviality. Dove, which has been helping women to build confidence, Tony’s Chocolonely that aims to move an entire industry away from dependency on slavery.
The possibilities are endless, as you can see. The most important thing to remember is that it is best to choose a social theme that fits your brand values.
If you really want to focus on social themes, it is important that you choose themes that are in line with your brand identity and core values. That is the only way to take authentic action. The three brands we mentioned above — Douwe Egberts, Dove, and Tony's Chocolonely — do it well.
That is why it makes little sense as a brand to want to take a position on all possible themes. It’s better to align with a smaller number of topics that are in line with the values — that's a lot more authentic.
It’s also important to make sure that your words and your actions are aligned. Do what you say and say what you do. “Practise what you preach”, as they say in English.
As an organisation, do you want to focus on a specific theme, but without taking any concrete action to prove it? Then you will quickly find your brand is exposed. When an organisation pretends to be greener — or more socially responsible — than it really is, it's called greenwashing . This is not the kind of thing you want your brand to be associated with.
Brands play a more important role in society than ever before. They can influence and make a real impact on the world — and that's true for nonprofits as well as commercial brands.
In fact, Edelman's annual global Trust Barometer shows that companies are trusted more than NGOs, governments, and media. In the same study, 86% of respondents answered that CEOs should take the lead when it comes to social issues. So if you choose to adopt a clear, visible position as an organisation, you will most likely win the respect of your target audience.
One brand that takes that impact very seriously is Patagonia. The American brand sells outdoor clothing and equipment, and has been actively engaged in its role in society since its inception. You can see that very clearly in the tagline: We're in business to save our home planet“ ”. And it's not just words: Patagonia donates 1% of proceeds to environmental organisations, the brand is actively involved in the circular economy, and the company is a certified B Corp.
Download our whitepaper: “Brand positioning on social topics: do's and don'ts”.
People today pay more attention to social themes than ever before. Consequently, they prefer brands that are aware of those themes and share their personal values.
What does that mean for your brand? Well, it means you can increase your sales by taking a sincere stance on certain social issues. But, it’s important to note; don't take up a position because you will generate more turnover with it — that's a nice bonus, but it shouldn't be a goal in and of itself.
Your goal might be, a thing that socially engaged brands often do better than other brands, is to build a strong community. By taking a position and actively promoting it, you attract people who share that opinion, and sometimes you repel people who think otherwise. That may be difficult in the beginning — it feels like you're missing out on potential customers — but at the same time you attract the people who do support your mission and vision. And in the long run, that is a lot more valuable.
In the meantime, it’s obvious that as a brand it’s best to take a clear position on certain social themes. But just as important is to always stay close to your brand's core values — otherwise people will see you as unreliable, and that's obviously not what you want.