Gain an Unfair Advantage With a Position; Not Just Positioning

A recent global study by the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) found that consumers would not care if 74 percent of the brands they use today disappear tomorrow. The fact that just one quarter of brands matter highlights the fact that we live in an era where brands are fighting an uphill battle for attention and trust.

As our own 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer has shown, trust has been on a downward spiral with trust in all four institutions — business, government, media and NGOs — to do what is right, continuing their decline in 2017. With over half of global respondents believing the system is failing them, there is an expectation for brands to step up and address social issues in place of these institutions.

Also, study after study informs us that traditional, top-down, broadcast-first, image-led marketing is no longer effective. On one end, consumers have more choices than ever before. At the same time, their ability to be better informed at the click of a button has increased. Unfortunately, the dilemma with the increased number of choices is that they have lesser and lesser time to make educated choices. Getting over indifference is, now, the biggest challenge for marketers.

Unfortunately, the same brands who are trying to rise above the noise are in effect, ending up becoming part of the very same clutter. As brands become better at advertising, consumers are improving their recognition of advertising and paying less attention to it.

The silver lining is in a brand’s beliefs, its actions and its activism.

Our 2017 Edelman Earned Brand study found that consumers are buying based on beliefs. Fifty-seven percent of people now buy or will move away from a brand based on its position; be it on social, environmental or political issues. Belief-based buying is becoming more important to consumers as well, with 30 percent saying they are buying or boycotting because of a brand’s stance compared to three years ago.

When exploring how to connect with belief-based buyers, half of all global respondents in the study, a brand’s actions matter and silence is not acceptable.

Nearly two-thirds of them said they will not buy a brand if it remains quiet on an issue they believe it has an obligation to address. When brands do take a stand and act, they are rewarded by belief-driven buyers.

Two-thirds of these buyers reported purchasing a brand for the first time because it took a position on a controversial issue, ten times greater than spectators. Nearly a quarter of belief-driven buyers will also a premium for a brand sharing their position. What your brand believes in and acts on is an opportunity for business.

The call for clients is simple. It’s about how brands have a clear, strong and authentic purpose, one that is meaningful and benefits all of us, not just the business. It needs to be a fight that matters to all of us, not just the bottom line.

Belief-driven brands do more and talk less. They create and become a platform for engagement and action. While marketers can choose to see this either as a challenge or an opportunity, the reality is the brands that are winning are the ones empowering consumers to buy into their beliefs. You will have evangelists who will strongly advocate you. And once you’ve sold in these belief-driven buyers to your belief, they will advocate on your behalf, creating a much more powerful form of reach and amplification.

Companies and brands now have an opportunity to go beyond “No Brand’s Land” by taking a position rather than rely on positioning, becoming activists in a world where trust is in crisis and attention is in short supply. If not, we might as well accept that 74 percent of brands that will not be missed, once gone.

Rupen Desai is vice chairman, Edelman Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa.


Originally published at www.edelman.com on October 16, 2017.

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