How provocative is your brand?

Selen Kartal
Mar 13, 2017 · 3 min read

Even though brands differentiated through “innovation” or “celebrity used TV commercials” for many years; wave of provocative behavior started to affect the agenda of brands, too.

In a world, Trumpism & Brexitism introduced the “post–truth” word to our vocabulary; unfortunately “turning a blind eye” is no longer a choice for brands’ existence.

(Definition of post-truth in English (adj.) * Relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief)

Millennials’ increasing ethical demand has been another game changer and transformed the status of brands from “neutral” to “being opinionated”.


Because millennials care.

World Economic Forum Study shows that they care about “social impact investing” and prefer brands not only have an attitude but also take actions to improve the society. Colorful packaging trends, a variety of flavors, influencers or sponsorships are no longer enough to be “cool” and win the heart of consumers in today’s unsaturated market. Consequently, brands who underestimate these ethical needs and don’t create a long term vision around it, will be suffering independently of their size and capabilities.

Choose your side!

1st of February, I got an email from Airbnb (I attached screenshot of e-mail but as my Airbnb language is Turkish, i also summarized its meaning here) kindly asking “with love” for my support for the immigrants who are not welcomed to U.S as a last minute surprise and had to stay in several cities of Turkey due to Trump’s order. 150 people were homeless (had to spend their savings on accommodation) and Airbnb was asking from its users to become hosts voluntarily.

Do you want to help?

Make an impact

TOMS Shoes introduced an extraordinary brand mission to our lives by integrating “corporate social responsibility” into its DNA. “Improving children’s lives” has become a “brand why” for TOM’s and went far beyond ordinary sales promotions or social responsibility efforts.

CEO Blake Mycoskie’ description of “We are a mission with a company” for Business Insider Interview explains brand’s roadmap clearly and shows the difference of TOMS from tons of “companies with a mission”.

Tell the world how you can change it

When i first heard Chipotle’s name and watched brand’s sustainable farming ad named best TV campaign at Cannes in 2012, i understood that brands should tell the world that how they can change it. Otherwise it is inevitable to remain as an ordinary fast food chain around the corner. Since then, even though we don’t have Chipotles here in Turkey, i found myself eating those delicious burritos in the closest Chipotle Corner every time i travel.

These are just a few examples which helped brands climbing the top of the brand love pyramids in bad weather and cold storms. However, recently increasing trend of activism (we can increase the examples; #deleteUber vs Lyft, Ikea with refugee houses design in stores etc.) also brought discussions around the “honesty” level of the brand claims (which could be the subject of another article).

So here is the question of this article; how strong and consistent will be the wave of provocative behavior of brands?

As Martin Lindstorm stated in his article “This is how Trumpism has affected the world of future brands. His message? Speak your mind, be opinionated and provocative, and win!”. It seems that brands need to change their roles from observer to contributor; for a “better world” (or “win”)!

*Please click that little heart and recommend if you liked☺

Selen Kartal

Written by

Hello! I’m a surfer, marketer, sales enabler, growth leader, yogi and also a dedicated student of human potential and personal development.

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