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Brand Values and the Values of a Brand

Cultures evolve.

Brands evolve.

Meshing those evolutionary processes is key to the success of most companies. Today’s culture is very ’cause’ based. Many consumers have become very conscious of brands that support causes that align with their own. Subsequently, many consumers rail against brands that they know do not share that common ground. Meanwhile, still a significant percentage of consumers want separation between the two.

A recent MSN survey of more than 275,000 consumers, highlighted these views:

  • 51% of those polled stated that they would switch to a brand that shares their values; while 33% had ‘no opinion’ and 17% would not.
  • 58% said they would boycott brands that supported causes that they were against; while 27% had ‘no opinion’ and 15% stated they would not necessarily boycott those brands.
  • 47% stated that they did not care about a brands stance on social issues. 26% did care and 28% had ‘no opinion.
  • 58% said that brands should ‘stay away from social issues’. 19% disagreed with that, saying brands should engage such issues, while 23% had ‘no opinion’.

Aligning your brand with a social cause can be a tricky proposition. Such causes can be proverbial lines in the sand, creating passionate and heavy-user customers on one hand, while simultaneously alienated others.

According to that MSN survey, 25 percent of the pollsters researched the social causes of the brands they are loyal toward. It’s a hefty percentage, but leaves 75 percent of the marketplace that either does not do such research or is completely indifferent.

Passion is a powerful thing in marketing today. If your company is truly passionate about taking a vocal and public stance on an issue, albeit a controversial one, you have a good chance of creating a customer base that favors your brand simply because of this. If your brand relies greatly on ‘heavy users’–those that have a significant part of its revenue stream coming from an active purchasing group…then aligning in a meaningful way with those ‘heavy users’ could greatly impact your bottom line.

Of course, passion can go both ways. There is always an opposite side of that coin that translates into alienating those whose opinions do not align with your own. For those that ‘care’ about a given issue (about 58% according to the survey), that revenue is gone.

Choosing universally supported positions creates a win with every side. Children related causes…education, animal causes…healthcare causes…elderly care causes…there are many such causes that generate positive vibes for all. In many, you may find an equally passionate fan base.

Aligning with such positive causes generates a more caring brand image with customers. This can serve as a powerful differentiation in markets where the variances between individual brand offerings becomes fuzzy. Such alignment can give prospects a clear reason to pick your brand over competitors in the market. Further, it can engender greater loyalty toward your brand.

It’s a brand strategy that can truly define, differentiate and bring relevance to your brand. A brand strategy that I highly recommend.

However, if you must go the ‘controversial cause’ route, be careful–ask yourself the following: 1) Does your bottom line benefit from heavy users?; 2) Will such alignment create and spur more transactions from those customers; 3) Will alienating the ‘other’ side be more than compensated for by attracting those passionate customers about the issue?; 4) What other competitive advantages do you have versus the competition in the market…or is this the best differentiator strategy-wise?

As always, much to consider when building a distinct and culturally relevant brand identity in today’s market. Want to discuss your a marketing strategy for your brand evolution? Email me today: or book a meeting by clicking here.

By Scott Trueblood, of BrandVision Marketing. BrandVision Marketing is a full-service marketing agency based in Knoxville, TN.

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