Purpose Driven Brands

This morning I attended a seminar on purpose driven brands that was put on by the University of Cincinnati college of business.  It had great speakers such as Dr. Nancy Zimpher, the president of UC, the Keynote speaker was Jim Stengel who is the Global Marketing Officer of P&G, and a panel discussion by Dr. Fritz Russ (Dept. of Marketing for UC), Ms. Kathy Selker, CEO of Northlich, Jim Sluzewski, VP for corporate communications for Macy’s, Walter Solomon, VP and CGO for Ashland, and finally Dr. Chris Allen, professor of marketing at UC.  I found Jim Stengel’s insights into creating a purpose driven brand to be refreshing, and well done.  It wasn’t earth shattering, as I have learned much of this before, but it did put in in perspective from P&G’s point of view by sharing anecdotal stories of P&G Brands.

Some of the main points from Jim included:
1) Its about the consumer: It needs to be service driven and focused on the consumer. His example was how the TIDE brand gives back after major natural disasters such as Katrina by bringing in free washing machines built into a semi truck and helping victims fill this need, and creating a positive brand image while doing someting important for the consumer.
2) Authenticity –  It needs to be transparent, genuine, and truly authentic. Consumers have Real/Fake meters that can tell when something is not authentic.  He shared an example of the Old Spice brand and their marketing. He also noted that “Cause Marketing” was only a component of a brand, not the entire purpose driven proposition.
3) It derives from a Generous & Giving spirit.  When you give unselfishly your consumers will know it and appreciate it.  For example, when you go to the Apple store, any of the people working there have a service mentality where they will help, share and ensure that you have what you need.  They just want you to be successful.  Jim shared how the Pampers brand gave back by working with Unicef to vaccinate children and mothers (their customer) in 3rd world countries against Tetanus.  A simple to treat disease that impacts infant mortality.

The speakers also spoke about how creating a purpose driven brand must start with leadership that has to be explicit about the goals, talk about it with the entire company, write about it, share it, and live it.  It’s important to energize your people, as that is how you will know you are being successful in creating the right environment.

And finally, since there were many in the creative class at this event, and many of us from design agencies, Jim talked about how design is important.  It has to create a consumer experience that brings the brand’s purpose to life.

I enjoy the seminar, and met several good people at the event.  It’s good to hear that corporations are changing their brands to be more conscious and helping to spread that mind set to the community of service providers, educators and marketers.  This reminds me of the work we did for the Os-Cal brand (GSK) that was based upon “leaving a legacy of inspiration” and empowering their consumers (women age 50 – 65) to live a healthy and active life.  That was a great project that the entire brand team and agency team members felt great about participating in. The team here at Electronic Art would love to work with brands who are of this mind set and need help building their interactive components to their purpose driven brands.  Think of digital signage used for corporate communications to educate, inform and reinforce your brand’s goals to your internal team.  Think of interactive kiosks in store or on shelf that tell your brands story and enable your customer to raise their hand and participate or donate to the greater cause.  You can do it and we can help.

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