opinion

Commentary

From Saying to Doing

Marketing used to be a one-way street. It was all about management and transmission: a command and control structure suited to a previous era. Nowadays, most brands get the fact that they need to invite consumer participation in order to drive engagement and stay relevant, but today’s most successful brands go way beyond this. They don’t just invite consumers in: they play a valued and valuable role in people’s lives. They are genuinely useful and meaningful — and to do this, they need to have an active purpose sitting right at the very core of their brand architecture.

This purpose is driven to deliver

In this day and age, "saying" is cheap; it’s what you "do" that counts. And it’s only going to get more important: ask your Millennial customers. The impetus to "do" drives innovation, priorities and how you view customer relationships and journeys. Active, purpose-driven brands place as much emphasis on brand behaviors as on communications. They recognize that when a consumer buys their product, it’s not the end of the relationship — it’s just the beginning. It’s nothing short of a re-invention of the customer engagement process.

Since 2003, Dove has taken a stand in the beauty industry. Among competitors who were consistently portraying an unattainable image to consumers, Dove defied the category norms and established a big ideal: "Dove believes that the world would be a better place if we could make more women feel more beautiful every day." From this, the award-winning Campaign for Real Beauty was devised, positioning Dove as the champion of a wider definition of beauty, defying society’s stereotypical images and celebrating beauty in all shapes, sizes, colors and ages.

Crucially, Dove has actively taken this purpose off the page and into action — otherwise, people would dismiss their stance as marketing puffery. Their famous viral films transformed the media and social discourse around beauty. The Dove Self-Esteem Fund was established to educate and inspire young people on a wider definition of beauty and inspire a greater sense of self-worth. The fund works in several markets around the world, helping drive the implementation of BodyThink, a tool for teachers and youth workers to help young people put the modern beauty world into perspective, be more media-literate and learn how to foster a healthy sense of self-esteem.

Dove lives out its purpose throughout its wide range of products and activities, and it goes beyond mere preaching — in acting on its distinctive point of view, the brand has carved out a defining and value-generating presence in a highly competitive market.

So, what’s the moral of this marketing tale? Brands need to move from static, controlled and rigid to active, inspiring and purposeful. Dove has. Have you?

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