When we’re young, we learn about the Five W’s: Who, What, When, Where and Why. As children, “why?” becomes an invaluable tool for growing inquisitive minds. It is the precursor to “The Pause,” where we take a step back to gather information and make decisions.
We’ve seen a rebirth of “The Pause” on a grand scale, catalyzed by the pandemic and fueled by growing mental health struggles across the country. Asking “why” is no longer reserved for special occasions. “why” is also fundamental to the way we engage and interact with brands.
Over the last couple of years, we’ve seen a shift from a “talk about it” to “be about it” mentality when it comes to supporting causes. Our values are now front and center as we make everyday decisions, from what we buy to who we “follow.” Today, people prioritize brands with a strong “why”—aka purpose driven businesses. They grow more loyal to a brand when they believe in its cause (read: increased lifetime profits). Now more than ever, brands need to activate on the “why.”
Much like consumers are practicing “The Pause,” so must brands. In honor of rediscovering or strengthening the “why” we’re sharing three key steps to building a successful, purpose driven program:
(Re)set the stage with narrative: What may seem like an obvious first step is one of the most crucial when it comes to identifying (and articulating) a brand’s purpose. Ask things like: What problem do you solve for your customers and the world around? What greater issues are interconnected? How does what you do enhance lives? It is key to clearly align on the “why”—and to evolve the story around it over time as needed.
Lean into CSR & ESG: Once you’ve identified what a company stands for, it’s time to put mission into action. Whether a brand has existing social good initiatives or is starting from scratch, living up to your “why” beyond product offering is key. An ESG program helps achieve that in a structured way, if it’s not intrinsic to the product or business model. Giving back to the community and abiding by a code of (brand) conduct also connects companies to customers in an invaluable way. In most cases, people will pay more when they know the company uses its revenue compassionately. Take Cuddle + Kind, who sells dolls handcrafted by women artisans in Peru and Nepal at fair trade income. Each doll purchased provides 10 meals to children around the world. Despite costing up to $73 per doll, they sell and have over 22 million meals provided since 2015.
Use PR to elevate the brand mission: Clearly articulate your brand’s ethos in everything you do. Find creative ways to carry the message through. We’ve found that it’s getting harder to get media coverage around efforts like ESG, CSR and DEI as more companies embrace them, so other methods (think: organic and promoted social media, employee advocacy campaigns, executive speaking gigs, etc.) become key. Also, evaluate each campaign through the lens of: “Does this effectively communicate the company’s mission and help build connections with our target audiences?” If you do, you’ll be one step closer to that getting the positioning you want in your market and winning over likeminded consumers.
Net-net: Building a PR program that communicates the mission and impact of purpose driven business builds brand loyalty—and it is never too late to ask (or redefine) “why.”
This article was initially published by our sister company SHIFT Communications on SHIFT Insights.
——— Brittany Joyal is the Account Director at SHIFT Communications, sister company of NATIONAL Public Relations