Written by Teri Franco
- 3 Steps for Alignment
- Identify your brand’s mission.
- Tap into your community.
- Find a real cause and be ready to adapt.
- About Supur
When people talk about “brand,” they often define it as a logo, a tagline, maybe a certain product. Brand is none of those things.
Brand is an identity set forth by values. Logos, taglines, and products are tools used to communicate a brand’s values. Those tools cannot exist independently; they must be intertwined to collectively illustrate the brand narrative.
Social impact is no exception. The most notable social initiatives and cause marketing campaigns align with the ethos of the brand rather than feeling tacked on. Furthermore, a more random, arbitrary initiative can dilute the brand narrative and come off as shallow. When done right, cause marketing campaigns can reinforce your brand’s mission and strengthen your connection with customers.
Below, I’ll walk you through three steps you can take to align your social impact and brand strategy to create meaningful cause-related marketing initiatives.
3 Steps for Alignment
Identify your brand’s mission.
First and foremost, authentic social impact initiatives must align with the brand’s mission. Supergoop!, a sunscreen disruptive, vibrant sunscreen brand, does a great job at this.
When founder Holly Thaggard’s close friend was diagnosed with melanoma, she set out to learn about the damaging effects of sun exposure. She found that sun damage can begin during childhood. As a caring mother and teacher, Holly launched Supergoop! with a mission to promote living in the sunshine (without the harmful effects of sun damage). Their bright packaging and cheerful copy reflect this mission. It was only natural that their giving strategy would encompass the fun nature of their brand.
Supergoop!’s “Ounce by Ounce” giving program donates sunscreen to any Pre-K and Kindergarten classroom in America who requests it. The brand demonstrates a social initiative that seamlessly fits into its brand narrative, rather than just a marketing play, Ounce by Ounce feels like a natural extension of Supergoop!.
Learn more about how to create your brand purpose!
Tap into your community.
Your social impact initiatives should be geared towards your brand’s community. Who is your community? What do they care about?
Tapping into the pathos of your target audience will provide direction for a compelling cause marketing campaign. Patagonia has a clear understanding of their community. Their clothing can withstand the toughest environmental conditions and supports outdoor experiences. Patagonia targets the adventurous go-getter who wants a functional piece that can travel through nature with them. Since 1985, the brand has donated 1% of its sales to environmental preservation and restoration efforts. This campaign captures an important value of the Patagonia community that embraces nature; it makes sense for their campaign to benefit the environment. Compelling social initiatives are centered around issues championed by the community.
Find a real cause and be ready to adapt.
Once you align your social impact strategy with your brand’s mission and your community’s values, it is important to determine if that initiative will have real reach. A social campaign enhances the emotional resonance of a brand only when it is authentic.
To make sure your social campaign doesn’t seem like a “token gesture,” it's important to identify a real cause.
After noticing that underprivileged campers in their day-camp would carry their belongings in ripped trash bags, the founders of State Bags built their mission-driven company. They entertained a one-for-one giving model, donating a fully-stocked backpack to a child in need for each backpack sold. As the needs of their cause evolved, State Bags decided to change their impact approach and collaborate further with their nonprofit partners.
Rather than sticking to a consistent campaign, they retired their one-for-one model and replaced it with a program that best serves those in need. Now, State Bags is helping American families and children “in the ways they need it most.”
The one-for-one model was easy and catchy, but State Bags values true impact over anything and demonstrated that by altering their model. By identifying flaws in their model and being willing to adapt, there is no doubt that State Bags has built even more trust in their community.
When creating your social impact program or cause marketing campaign, remember to reflect on your brand’s mission, community, and cause. Supergoop!, Patagonia, and State Bags are three brands doing an amazing job building authentic social impact programs.
Supur is a social impact consultancy focused on helping young brands develop authentic social impact programs that help them tap into their audience and grow their businesses.
To learn more about authentic social impact, read this article, which dives into building internal buy-in, making an effort, and driving impact.