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Building An Authentic, Purpose-Driven Brand

Brands have reacted to the global health crisis in a number of ways — some have pulled tone-deaf ads while others have pivoted their business to develop essential products. However, brands that have risen to the occasion and looked out for the wider community are the ones that stand out.

A brand’s underlying purpose and relevance to its customers is what should at the core of its vision and mission. This is particularly true in a crisis where consumers weigh the pros and cons of every single purchase decision.

It makes business sense.  

Profitability and purpose are not mutually exclusive. Kantar’s Purpose in Asia report found that “90% of consumers want brands to get involved in the issues they care about, meaning that an authentic brand purpose is now an expectation not a bonus”.

Is there any harm in not having a purpose? 

Well, according to Accenture, businesses lose up to half their customers, with 17% never coming back to brands that don’t serve a larger purpose. Earning brand loyalty is not as simple as giving away free products or making a one-time donation. 

Here’s how you build a purpose-driven brand:

  1. Let your brand DNA guide you

Your brand purpose should be connected to your core business. Your products and expertise create an impact on your consumers – and this should be a long-term strategy, rooted in a deep issue or opportunity that’s impactful (such as sustainability, education) or identifying specific communities to champion over the years. 

  1. Pick issues that matter to your community

Keep an ear out for what’s being said on the ground. If a brand is not actively listening to the people it aims to serve and refining its action to help the community, then its well-meaning activations could backfire. 

If you are part of a global team where the broader corporate social initiatives and goals do not translate well to the issues that directly impact your markets or region, it’s best to find a local nuance that makes the most sense for your community. 

  1. Look inwards

Charity begins at home. If a brand positions itself as being helpful to the wider community while mistreating its own policies with oppressive practises (long working hours with little pay, poor or unsafe working conditions, no tangible employee benefits, toxic working culture), there is a huge disconnect. If the wider public were to get wind of these practises, they would have a solid case for boycotting it. 

Your employees are your brand advocates, and being part of a purpose-driven brand attracts, motivates and retains employees. Outside of being proud of the impact they create, an engaged team could also lend their own creativity and ideas towards giving back to society and kick starting their own community-building initiatives, further driving your purpose. 

  1. Take action 

Once your brand is ready to take action, don’t forget to continuously engage the benefactors and track your performance over time. 

Take a look at your user journey to see how you can activate your own consumers to drive awareness of the impact your contributions have made. Better yet, involve your consumers so they also feel like they’re making a difference. 

As an example, Trouble Brewing, a local brewery in Singapore, launched an Adopt-A-Pub initiative that gives 10% of their proceeds to the consumers’ favourite bar, pub or restaurant at no additional cost. 

  1. Communicate effectively with stakeholders

It’s important for brands to interact with the right stakeholders on the right platform so you do not come off as self-serving. The point of community involvement should not be to raise your business profile and make yourself look good. Companies also need to listen for feedback – and tweak their approach to remain relevant. 

When employees, customers and even benefactors spread the word, it’s a lot more impactful than sending out a press release.

At Mutant, we’re proud to help our clients engage and help our communities. Here is how our team in Malaysia activated a much needed initiative within a short amount of time: 

Kimberly-Clark Malaysia helped 16,000 families during the global health crisis:

Kimberly-Clark, a brand that’s rooted in global social responsibility guidelines, wanted to make a meaningful contribution to help ease the burdens of Malaysians who have been affected by the pandemic. As residents were not allowed to leave their neighbourhoods, they were reliant on donations for food and essential items. 

Mutant connected with the Federal Territories Ministry to identify communities that would most benefit from donations. Kimberly-Clark was able to coordinate the delivery of donations worth 1 million RM within a week, consisting of essentials such as diapers, feminine hygiene products and tissues. 

The Deputy Federal Territories Minister YB Dato’ Sri Dr Santhara Kumar shared a message of thanks to Kimberly-Clark

If you’re keen on developing a brand purpose, or need help localising a global mandate, we’re here to help – write to us at hello@mutant.com.my

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