10 Sustainable Branding Best Practices, Unilever and Sketches

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dove-sketchConsumers are engaged in sea-changing search for businesses that are authentic in their commitment to customers. According to a Harris Interactive survey, 44% of Americans have a “poor” or “terrible” opinion of Corporate America. Less than a third of Americans view Corporate America as “very good” or “good.” Only 9 percent of U.S. consumers believe brands improve their lives. 93 percent of Americans would not care if brands disappeared!

Ten dimensions of a great brand

20th Century brand success was based upon offering customers “more, bigger, faster, cheaper” and delivering these benefits “now!” The 21st Century consumer, enabled through mobile and social digital technologies, are redefining what a brand must offer to attract them and win them as customers. The American consumer is actively searching for brands that align value with values.

Market research is documenting ten dimensions a brand needs to competitively engage customers on their issues of value and values. These ten dimensions are:

Price competitiveness. It starts here for most consumers in today’s economy. The price tag is the key qualifier on how interested a consumer will be in your product.

Delivering value. Value is the size of the bill. For example, the electric utility industry is now confronting a competitive threat from companies that sell energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies because these companies can deliver lower electric bills. This value orientation is a business success formula proven to by Amazon, Walmart and Home Depot to win customer loyalty.

Service. Today’s consumer has has replaced “now” with “service.” The lower the service the more the company and product is categorized by the customer as a commodity that should be shopped for based upon lowest price.

Reliability. Whether a product actually works to the customer’s satisfaction is critical to brand authenticity. The 20th Century has taught consumers that cheap does not equal to value if the product fails to perform. The 21st Century is teaching customers that the price sticker does not include key costs tied health, social and environmental impacts

Safety. What would you pay for an unsafe product? Obviously, zero because it is of no value. Safety is a killing dimension for a brand. Think “pink slim.”

Honesty. It begins here in terms of values. Is your company’s brand representative of the customer’s best interest? Or is your brand a representation of what you think your customer wants to hear? The ramification of being dishonest is to forever lose a customer. One example is Coca-Cola’s reported response to a law suit challenging their Vitaminwater marketing as “No consumer could reasonably be misled into thinking vitaminwater was a healthy beverage.” http://exilelifestyle.com/dishonest-branding-coke-vitaminwater/

Healthy. Moving pass safe, is your product good for the consumer? This is a mega-issue for moms concerned over the wellness of their loved ones. Women have $10 trillion of annual U.S. buying power and the issue of wellness strongly competes with their budget management as their top driver in deciding what to buy.

Social responsibility. How your company treats others continues to grow as a determining brand in our diverse and connected global economy. Paying a worker a dollar per hour to work in an unsafe work environment is being challenged by consumers no matter how low the product’s price tag. Corporate social responsibility is maturing from an island of “do-good” within a corporation. It is now a supply chain risk management best practice.

Environmental integrity. A company must have environmental integrity if it wishes to sell to the Millennial Generation, and their concerned moms. The millennial generation was born into climate change. They see environmental consequences threatening their futures. “Cool with a purpose” is the Tom’s Shoe logo that captures the millennial generation’s imagination and dollars.

Emotional connection. How does Apple and Patagonia continue to succeed in the face of lower priced competitors? They are examples of the profit that can be achieved from making an emotional connection with a customer. “Well loved” and “authentic” are emotional connections that are hard to win but easy to lose if a brand fails to fulfill the above nine dimensions. Building an emotional connection is the competitive advantage available to local businesses. It is the ultimate challenge for large corporations.

”Sketches.” An exclusive interview Christine Cea, Unilever Senior Director Marketing Communications

There is an art to converting the above ten brand dimensions into brand equity. One of the best examples on how to do so is a YouTube video called Sketches posted by Dove, a Unilever corporation brand. This video is the most watched branded video on YouTube with almost 56 MILLION views!

At the Sustainable Brands 2013 Conference I had the opportunity to talk with Christine Cea, Unilever Senior Director Marketing Communications about the Sketches video. In the following video Christine talks to how to craft a story to achieve a values based emotional connection with a customer:

About the author

Bill Roth is an economist and the Founder of Earth 2017. He coaches business owners and leaders on proven best practices in pricing, marketing and operations that make money and create a positive difference. His book, The Secret Green Sauce, profiles business case studies of pioneering best practices that are proven to win customers and grow product revenues. Follow him on Twitter: @earth2017

About Bill Roth

Bill Roth is the founder of Earth 2017, author of The Secret Green Sauce and a nationally-followed contributor to Entrepreneur.com, Triple Pundit, The Green Economy Post and Media Post on best business practices emerging from the smart, healthy and green global economy. He coaches entrepreneurs, business and community leaders on how to grow revenues, profits and jobs by going smart and green.
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