Gone are the days of “branding” as solely synonymous with a logo, color palette, and brand mission. Today’s branding efforts are much deeper and stickier. They help with recall, building trust, and developing brand evangelists that can propel a business forward. When done right, we call this meaningful branding, and as consumer cynicism grows, it’s become more crucial than ever.
How meaningful branding happens
Relatability and familiarity are essential components of a meaningful brand. Often, they are the first thing many of us think of when we consider how a company brands itself. But, those tent poles are only part of the puzzle. Truly meaningful branding focuses on customers’ values, supports society as a whole, and/or assists the health of the environment. All brands start with a foundation of traditional branding elements like a unified message, imagery and color palette. But to become a meaningful brand, they don’t stop there. Rather, brands that want to stand out invest in special interests like mission, vision, position, personality, and purpose.
This all starts at the top of the sales funnel through education. Take, for instance, a luxury hotel located in the South of France. Historically, such a locale would advertise the opulence of its grounds, hoping to attract wealthier guests. A more modern approach is a content campaign centered on must-see, local attractions. Additionally, educational pieces on the hotel’s sustainability practices show customers that it’s a purpose-driven brand interested in combating the climate crisis. To enhance the messaging and continue the theme of environmental stewardship, the hotel might highlight only those attractions that promote care and appreciation for the local wilderness.
In short, meaningful brands are always clear about what matters to them, and they aren’t afraid to talk about it.
Why it matters
Earlier, we referenced growing cynicism among consumers. According to the most recent Meaningful Brands Report published by Havas, 71% of people have “little faith” that brands will deliver on their promises. Further, “only 34% of consumers think companies are transparent about their commitments and promises.”
As we discussed, the way to win consumers over is through action and commitment to the company’s purpose. While it can be tempting to jump on the latest marketing fad or cause du jour, consumers are quick to sniff out inauthenticity. For results that resonate deepest with your customers, stick to your brand and purpose guidelines. Doing so will not only keep your traditional branding elements in line, but also ensure the value you provide remains profound.
What’s the impact?
The reality is that meaningful branding has the potential to impact consumers across all segments, but there are certainly broad swaths of the population that are more cognizant of how brands operate than others.
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For instance, Gen Z and Millennials are incredibly invested in interacting with purpose-driven brands. According to 5WPR’s 2020 Consumer Culture Report, 83% of Millennials want brands to be in alignment with their own values. In addition, 76% of consumers in that same segment think CEOs should speak out on issues that are important to them.
Perhaps more interesting is that consumers are willing to put their money where their mouths — and hearts — are. That same Consumer Culture Report found that about two-thirds of Millennial consumers have boycotted a brand because the brand held an opposing belief on an issue, and 62% would favor a brand that was vocal about its political and social beliefs.
Although older generations are less influenced by a brand’s views, the report found that all generations are influenced by articles in magazines and other traditional media. These staples of the marketing mix have long given brands an opportunity to spread key messages, and remain relevant regardless of the target audience.
Final thoughts on meaningful branding
We’ve talked a lot about what it means to connect with consumers (and we can’t forget employees) on a deep level here, along with some of the ways to form those bonds. Essentially, those efforts all distill down into creating brand advocates—and that’s exactly what EGR International helps brands do through community building and engagement cultivation. To learn more about how we can help you fine-tune your own meaningful branding, contact us today.