This informal CPD article Lessons from the loo was provided Sara Marshall, Founder & Lead Consultant at The Strategy Place, internationally proven in designing, leading and delivering world-class, profitable customer strategies.
I was sat in my bathroom the other day, thinking about purpose and brand, and the relationship between the two. I work with several purpose-led businesses and one of the constant discussions we have, is how we engage fully at a brand level, with relevance and meaning.
The reason I was engaged in thinking about this whilst sat in the smallest room in the house, was because I subscribe to ‘Who Gives a Crap?”, a business that on the face of it, sells toilet paper, but is actually driven by a desire to give access to the 2 billion (yes, 2 billion) people in the world who don’t have access to a toilet.
I feel pretty good about buying my toilet paper from this lot. I have a warm sense of doing something good. But, as well as that, they make me laugh. In the delivery of my supplies, each individual roll has messages using the silly toilet humour that we all secretly giggle at.
So as well doing something good, I have a great relationship with this brand because of how they choose to engage with me. Their humour has tapped into the psyche of a whole swathe of people to build ‘sticky relationships’. We buy because it’s a good thing to do and we stay because we are engaged every time we take a trip to do the necessary. I know I could get my loo roll a bit cheaper, but actually I don’t mind paying a bit extra. The benefits I get outweigh the cost.
And to take that bold step, to be that brave in the way you use your tone of voice and brand, you need to know who you’re targeting, what they think, what’s important to them and what’s the best way to engage. And by engage, I mean really engage at a brand level during every possible touch point.
Brand is not just about colour
Brand is not about which colours to use. Of course, visual identity is important and there’s a whole area of psychology around which colour to use for what, but brand goes far deeper. It’s about creating a shortcut in the minds of the people you are targeting, so that they know who and what you are and what to expect. And then delivering or exceeding those expectations, constantly, through communications and importantly, brand experience.
This constant consistency is really important and businesses have to work hard to define how they are going to engage across all areas, particularly if they’re claiming to be purpose led. The whole purpose: brand thing is an interesting development in business. More and more organisations are classifying themselves as B Corp nowadays, a way to signal ‘doing some good’ (massively oversimplified). This is partly because of the zeitgeist towards ‘good’ and away from, what is sometimes seen as ‘pure profiteering’, but mainly, because businesses know their customers value authenticity and a responsibility of businesses to have a decent footprint.
Authenticity of purpose through brilliant brand engagement
So how do you really deliver authenticity of purpose through brilliant brand engagement?
A few things I’ve learnt:
- Be uncompromising in your values and then be true to those values.
- Be transparent in what you’re trying to achieve and then be honest about how that’s going.
- Don’t ‘buy’ popularity through social media ‘hacks’ or deals that reduce your value.
- Connect through stories. Demonstrate what you’re doing and the benefits that brings. Don’t just tell.
- Build on these connections to build a community of people, customers, members, that care.
- Become an expert. Know more than others so others turn to you for collaborations.
- Know your target audience and build how you engage on the back of that.
Doing things this way earns credibility, rather than claims it and helps create sustainable advantage, which in turn is good for business. And it builds a brand that customers care about. Kind of the Holy Grail.
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