Authentic brand storytelling that will make you want to help out.
We’re living in a world today where social responsibility is something we as humans are feeling more accountable for. It’s becoming a part of our purpose to make a difference to the things that matter to us. Increasingly, it’s also influencing who we choose to do our business with.
As humans, we knowingly support causes and businesses that help us achieve our goals and solve our challenges. These can be professional or personal challenges, health goals, or values focussed towards helping a community or our environment. Whatever they may be, they exist as goals in some form of our day-to-day lives.
We are no longer choosing a product or service based on sole price, or experience. We are beginning to notice and interact with brands that share our values or help us achieve these goals and meet challenges. The influencing factor in our decision making isn’t about the brand, the product, or service. It’s about us, how our challenges and values are met.
It’s also something that is causing a shift in some brands, in their purpose, actions and in their storytelling. They are beginning to take part in the conversations that we care about. They are placing extra focus on creating positive changes that help us, their consumers, to create a difference when we choose them. They share our social responsibility.
One of the main examples of this (and I admit has been widely shared) is that of TOMS. For every product you purchase, TOMS helps a person in need by donating a pair of shoes. Their purpose as a brand is of “helping others in need.” Through their actions, they are enabling customers who have a shared set of values, to make a difference — however small or big, through their purchases.
Here are three examples of brands sharing our social responsibility and storytelling through their actions. I call it storytelling through action, as we’re not hearing stories about how a brand will create change, or how it plans to. But, we’re seeing these brands practice this change through their purpose and their actions. In turn, this creates ripples that become the story.
#1 — Chobani
Chobani, a brand that popularised Greek yoghurt in America, overtook General Mills Inc.’s Yoplait last year to become the country’s biggest yoghurt brand. Amongst the many reasons given to explain how a 12-year-old business could overtake such a powerhouse in this short time, one was the favour of consumers towards brand authenticity.
Let’s look at some of Chobani’s storytelling through action. In the recent rhetoric about refugees and immigration within the USA, few brands have spoken up and taken a definitive stance. One of the strongest statements came from Chobani’s founder Hamdi Ulukaya, who pledged his support to those affected, in a letter to his employees. He also directed the company’s legal and human resources teams to explore whether any employees or their family members would be affected and provide “whatever assistance they need.” Furthermore, he has employed more than 400 refugees in his factories, starting a foundation to help migrants, and travelling to the Greek island of Lesbos to witness the crisis firsthand. In the past year, the founder launched a programme to give away up to 10% of the company’s equity to its workers.
#2 — Turkish Airlines
An airline? Yes, an airline. Turkish Airlines made my list of examples due to its reaction to a recent social media cause. When Jerome Jarre, a French social media celebrity started the Twitter hashtag #TurkishAirlinesHelpSomalia and #LoveArmyForSomalia, the campaign snowballed thanks to his followers and celebrities.
He had researched the plane routes and had noticed Turkish Airlines was due to fly into the region. And, in turn, after listening to its consumers, Turkish Airlines announced through social media that it would be sending a plane filled with aid to famine-stricken Somalia. In a video message that the Turkish Airlines pilot posted on Twitter, the brand shared its purpose and values, “As the only airline that connects Somalia to the world, we’ll be more than happy to deliver your love and assistance to Somalia on your behalf,” and “As the Turkish Airlines family, we are proud to be part of this great cause.”
So far, over $2 million has been raised, and the first flight to Somalia was scheduled for 27th March.
You can take a look at the fundraising campaign here.
#3 — Rapha
In a slightly older example, I wanted to share Rapha’s story. One of its brand values states, “Glory through suffering.” This sentiment resonates with the emotions of its customers, who as cyclists, understand the experience of powering through a physical struggle. “Rapha’s brand is built on a degree of authenticity is that is rarely matched. Its mantra of ‘Glory through suffering’ isn’t a clever marketing gimmick, but genuinely speaks to the nature and passion of cycling, with an empathy that only real cyclists could understand.” — D&AD
In Spring 2014, Rapha met Justin McLean, a rider from Melbourne, Australia who had been diagnosed with an aggressive form of bowel cancer a year earlier. His reaction was one of defiance with ‘‘no plan B” but to beat it.
Justin planned to revisit a cycling trail with friends at the end of his treatment; a plan he shared through the social media hashtag #noplanb. His story gained momentum, and it’s when Rapha shared its support. The brand documented the trip through one of their trademark films.
Upon completing his trip, Justin founded Thrivor. It’s non-profit which helps cancer patients and their families. And as a supporter, Rapha produced and sold a special limited edition cycling cap, with 100% of the proceeds going towards the charity. It’s a great example of a brand building authenticity through actions that align with its purpose.
It’s not just setting a purpose, creating values and talking about these in brand communications that matters to consumers. Actions matter. A brand that lives and breathes its purpose and stands by its values is one that builds a loyal population of fans and consumers.
In today’s world of connectivity through technology, instant messaging, social media interactions, and networked communities, our actions encourage our fans and consumers to do the storytelling.