The human condition is deep and complex; a beautiful contradiction of emotions and instinct. We make sense of our inner chaos by attaching a sense of purpose to our actions. This is why self-help books and other methods of finding one’s purpose constitute a multi-billion-dollar industry. Once people start caring about purpose, they desire other elements in their lives that match this mindset. The same is true for the brands they interact with as well. In an age where consumers are becoming increasingly conscious of their online interactions and, dare we say it, increasingly annoyed by the intrusive digital strategies of brands, this deeper connection is invaluable.
77% of consumers say they have stronger emotional connections to companies that are driven by purpose. Purpose-driven companies create more profound bonds with customers than brands that don’t associate themselves with a purpose. They’re not the standard commodity. Viewers see themselves playing a role in something more significant through the association. One survey shows that 80% of consumers say when they buy a product from a purpose-driven company, they feel they are positively impacting themselves. Therefore, a brand aligned with a purpose often does more than just differentiate itself. It relates to like-minded consumers at a level beyond the merely superficial.
What can brands do to showcase what matters to them?
Digital marketing has opened many avenues for brands to create intimate connections with consumers. The most impactful occurrence is the heightened accessibility to audiences. Who doesn’t use social media on their phone these days? This access allows brands to be more vocal about their identities and generate conversation in real-time. There are many ways to leverage social media to reach out to the masses. There are three main advantages to this:
- Creating social proof
Most people trust what other brand users have to say more than what the brand says about itself. This is why reviews on websites like Amazon are popular points of reference for prospective customers. Social media creates a space for existing customers to convey their experiences with a brand. Such reviews help establish whether a company is true to its brand promise or not.
- User-generated content
Like the reviews mentioned above, digital marketing allows for user-generated content. This includes videos, blog posts, social media posts, and many others. User-generated content is the best way to generate authentic social proof. A derivative strategy of this is influencer marketing – where those with a large follower count on social media review or recommend a product to their fans. This is very much like a celebrity endorsement – just far more “real.”
How can brands leverage digital strategies?
There are three primary stages to a digital marketing strategy. They are driving awareness, creating action, and creating evidence of the brand’s purpose.
- Driving awareness
The first step is to drive awareness of your brand. Only if people are aware of your brand will they learn about its purpose. There are many effective ways to do this, paid media campaigns being the most targeted. These campaigns occupy virtual real-estate on the digital timeline of their target audience. These campaigns focus on content that’s tailor-made to their target audience. Campaigns like these often focus on stories by real people.
It’s crucial to put your target audience at the heart of your brand’s story. By doing this, you’ll be reaching out to those who resonate with your brand’s purpose. For example, Apple has a strong brand identity, and its purpose is, “to empower creative exploration and self-expression.” They express this in all their digital media ads and online communications and do so on the channels where this context is relevant. Indeed, the brand has become synonymous with creativity, with many creative professionals choose the MacBook as their go-to device.
- Producing action
Once awareness has been created, the next step is to spur action. This is when the brand communicates with their audience and tells them how they can involve themselves. One such way is to create campaign-specific hashtags. Another way is to encourage your audience to create stories and upload them, along with tagging your brand. Contextual targeting helps make this content visible in the right places to the audience at potentially the right time.
Ensure whatever action you’re facilitating is easy to interact with and also clearly conveys your brand message. An example of this is Cadbury’s ‘Donate Your Words’ campaign. This campaign aimed to fight the issue of loneliness amongst the elderly. This raised money for the NGO Age UK by donating 30p from each sale of a limited-edition Dairy Milk bar. The related campaign shows their audience how to act and what to do. It was easy for them to participate. These are essential points if your campaign uses much user-generated content.
- Create evidence of purpose
The final step is to let your consumers themselves grow awareness. Those who interacted with your brand would now turn into brand advocates. This, in turn, celebrates those who engaged with your campaign and gives them space to inspire others to participate. How can you do that? By making the content generated by them accessible to the masses. Dove did this well with their ‘Show Us’ campaign. They created a collection of over 5,000 stock images, each shot by female and non-binary photographers from more than 40 countries. They represented a diverse selection of people in their actions and on their digital platforms.
The team leveraged a paid-media campaign to inspire individuals who didn’t feel represented in the media and advertising. They were encouraged to submit images, along with their own stories. This gallery was seamlessly integrated with Dove’s campaign page. Not only did this campaign generate a considerable amount of user-centric content that was on-point for their brand, but they were also able to generate social proof. Dove’s ‘Real Beauty’ campaign started as far back as 2004, and it’s still going strong.
There are many more ways brands can use digital marketing to showcase their purpose to their target audience. Using digital media, you can showcase your perception of what the world needs and how your brand is a solution. The key is to leverage digital strategies smartly and connect with your audience deeply.