The Cause Marketing Forum was abuzz last week with discussions about how brands and nonprofits can create lasting social good and connect better with consumers. The theme of this year’s conference was authentic storytelling. We talk about authenticity and human connection a lot on this blog. And authenticity was even a theme of CMF12. In marketing, and especially in cause marketing, it’s vital for brands to remain true to their values and just plain be human.
By now, the words ‘authentic’ and ‘story’ are commonplace as short form for what we cause marketers must strive for. But what do they mean?
Walt Freese, former CEO of Celestial Seasonings, Ben & Jerry's, and Stonyfield Farm, and current founder and chairman of the Brand Development Group, has a few ideas. He spoke eloquently on how brands can achieve stories that move people to action (social good or otherwise).
In his view, iconic brands:
- Break compromises – they don’t accept business as usual
- Evolve the role of business in society (conscious capitalism)
- Challenge the status quo with provocative products or approaches
- Cultivate a core of brand evangelists to co-create the brand identity and values
- Don’t retell the founder’s story, but rather tell the evolving brand story that involves customers, employees, fans (or even cows, like at Stonyfield Farm)
- Talk about the brand in an unexpected way (Ben & Jerry’s went to congress with a 900 Pound Baked Alaska to protest drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge)
- Live their brand values from the culture out (what he calls the ‘heart and soul’ level)
- Think in terms of every touch point available (social, web, guerilla, event)
Image via Commondreams.org