If you do any of the following, please stop it :-)
I remember couple of years back, everything was going green…
cities, brands, even the grocer next door…
We were hammered with ‘Sustainability’ messages promoting companies, brands, people…
in print, outdoor, conferences…you name it!
Everyone was on a mission.
You could easily spot the words ‘Carbon Footprint’ miles away on every other Billboard,
and hear it in every random conversation.
It was the ‘in’ thing. Everything was turning green…or blue.
Brands were compelled to act.
Being ‘environmentally active’ was the ‘Stamp of Approval’…
I remember in my previous company we even got branded blue water containers to stop using plastic cups.
Each one of us was asked to commit to a PSP (personal sustainability practice), a regular daily action that would reduce our carbon footprint.
We also had one full agency staff meeting on that subject….
….But it kind of ended there.
What happened since?
It’s been a while I haven’t seen any communication related to sustainability…and I am on Twitter!
Was it a mere trend?
Did ‘Social media’ take over as the new ‘in-thing’ to shout about?
Or was it that these companies / brands / people shortly realized that shouting ‘We’re Saving The Planet’ out loud, at every living soul didn’t double their sales dollars?
I guess they realized few sales reports later that ‘Sustainability’ was not an efficient ‘Marketing’ tactic.
Research and numbers finally proved that ‘Saving the Planet’ did not increase sales figures.
As a matter of fact, they probably came to the conclusion that most people would continue to buy
brands they love,
brands that converse with them,
brands that engage with them at the right level,
whether these brands are contributing to the wellbeing of the planet or not.
After all, the majority of the common mortals is selfish and really thinks short term.
Thinking long term is too much to ask, as long as Planet Earth will still be here for them and their kids.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not attempting to belittle the importance of Sustainability.
It is something I believe in.
(Ok, its not on top of my to do list and I don’t use the towel twice in a hotel, but I try to minimize the use of paper
and I still use my water container – but I changed the blue one to a more sophisticated silver one).
What I am definitely criticizing here is Brands taking advantage of it.
True Sustainability is that thing brands do, that costs them money, and that is aimed at improving the planet…and not sales!
It is very much altruistic…
Its actually an act of charity…
and the key thing with charity is that…YOU DON’T TALK ABOUT IT!
This is where action speaks louder than ads
And if Brands don’t stay true to this principle, they may as well forget pretending.
People are not fools. They can differentiate between genuine actions and cheap short-term marketing tactics.
And as one wise man once said:
Don’t save the world. If your product sounds too good to be true, then you’re a liar.
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I think ‘strategy’ is the most over used word in this industry. Too often it is misunderstood, and too often people use it inter-changeably with just ‘a thought’.
Good strategy is creative, just like good creative has to be strategic.
Good strategy is a jump from the mundane. It’s based on an idea. It makes a statement about what the brand is up to. Following from this people either buy into the brand or they don’t.
When you think about campaigns like Avis’s ‘we try harder’, or Honda’s ‘power of dreams’ it is very obvious what the brand is up to, the strategy stands out.
Here are some jump starters for writing good communication strategy:
1. Develop an insight or story, and then summarise it as a strategy.
2. Think ‘what is my creative angle on this problem’ what’s the larger than life proposition to the world?
3. Think ‘what is my point of view’ on a subject matter?
4. Work out what it is your brand or product is ‘against’ – what do you oppose?
5. What is the consumer benefit? How do we demonstrate this in the creative?
6. The problem – Great ideas start with big problems. What is the consumer problem you are trying to solve?
Your position – What is your position on the things that the consumer cares about? Show you care about the problem. For example: ‘The campaign was created to communicate the Pampers brand’s philosophy that children perceive the world very differently from adults, even the simplest things are opportunities to learn and experiment, and children should be given the freedom and comfort to do so’
Your promise – The promise is the way in which you (implicitly or explicitly) prove to the consumer your credibility in holding that position and what you intent to do about it. E.g.: ‘Pampers provides comfort to your child so they can be free to experiment’.
The Brand Idea – This is an outward facing crystallisation of the position and promise. It’s the brands point of view ‘Look at the world through the eyes of a child’.
7. What do we want the target market to think, feel, do?
8. What is our unique ownable property? The unique aspect that only our product / service has? It could be a product feature, something inherent in our design. For example:
- FJ Cruiser’s unique retro look, going back to basics, the type you can use for a long time – product concept is ‘the rebirth of rugged’,
- Audi’s Vorsprung durch Technik, How can we relate that to the key proposition?
Today, good brand strategy is based on mutual benefit, takes into account sustainability. Is transparent and honest.
Till next time, enjoy!