Why it pays to give something back
We’ve had more than a little time recently to reflect on what we truly value, and what we want to stand for personally when all this hopefully finishes. Social media has certainly needed to adapt its role in society during this time and has undoubtedly helped to make us feel that we are part of something bigger.
As we emerge from our Covid induced rethink, it’s probably fair to say we are now living in an era of brand purpose and social responsibility – where the boundaries between brands and their followers have become blurred to the point that the duty of care has never been greater. Indeed, taking social responsibility seriously now sets a brand aside from its competitors and we now almost expect brands to place their values at the front and center of everything they do.
After all, brands that have been recognised for their commitment to purpose, have been seen to grow at twice the rate of others over the last 12 years. Highlighting real purpose can increase profit, staff retention, respectability, recruitment, and engagement – as well as deliver some genuine good. It’s a win-win.
One highly effective way to do this is by supporting a relevant charity and sharing your support to raise the flag for everyone concerned. Charities rely on external funding, so better brand partnerships could be the missing link to providing the much-needed exposure that both brands and charities will so desperately need in the post-covid economy.
Caring Cooks is a Jersey-based charity close to our hearts here at Underscore. The charity began as a good deed from the CEO, cooking a weekly meal for a vulnerable family – but has since expanded to a team of 40 volunteers; educating children on nutrition and pioneering Jersey’s first hot meal delivery service to primary school children.
As highlighted earlier, it can be hugely beneficial for charities to have a strong social media presence. With this in mind, our design team at Underscore has been directing their expert talents towards creating some authentic content for Caring Cooks’ social media launch – with a focus on highlighting their friendly nature and meaningful cause. This human touch was significant as it’s just as important for charities to be seen with a human face, as it is for brands. After all, the best way to inspire action is to engage with people on an emotional level.
Factors to consider
For your purpose to connect, authenticity is paramount. There needs to be a clear connection between the brand and its message, that does not appear to deviate too far from its established values. For an example of what not to do, the Pepsi campaign ‘Jump In’ failed to communicate its intended message of unity and peace, and was branded instead as being somewhere between ‘tasteless’ and ‘tone deaf’. Mike Jackson (the marketing expert) commented; “I think it was the right idea, it was just the wrong brand… brands need to stay in a space where they’re authentic, where they’re relevant, and a place where they’ve been consistent.” The ad left Pepsi looking like it was trying to capitalise on a serious issue… in order to sell more soda. The connection just wasn’t there and their customers could tell – so after the backlash, it was quickly pulled from YouTube in an effort to protect their brand.
On the other hand, a brand that has remained authentic, and is doing well to communicate its brand values, is Pampers. They’ve chosen to partner with Unicef, a charity that was connected to their mission – pledging to donate the cost of one tetanus vaccine for each branded pack of nappies sold, which means 300 million tetanus vaccines have now been funded since 2003. This campaign added weight to their values and demonstrated that they cared – and in turn, this initiative helped improve the recruitment and retention of employees at P&G (the parent company), while Unicef’s brand name helped Pampers attract a whole new group of customers. A real success.
At Underscore we have worked with The Money Charity for nearly ten years ‘helping people to live happier and more positive lives, without financial concern’. As a charity that is centered around giving human advice to humans in need, we developed a customised family of brand identities that could highlight their personalised approach in different situations. We then helped increase their reach and their value by sharing their message across a number of annual campaigns including the Student Money Manual, a financial self-help guide that reaches over 500,000 students every year.