I recently shared an article on LinkedIn around how industries are jumping on the Brandwagon with Veganuary. Rightly so you might think.
A business needs to be profitable to survive, and by feeding off the latest trend it will keep them afloat. It can’t do any harm. Can it?
Brands can naturally evolve to offer a better service and experience to a customer over time.
Apple provides a service and experience that adapts and leads the way. It might be the gadgets, the technology, the in-store experience or even the new AppleTV+ but it all fits back to why Apple exists, “To make the tools for the mind that advance humankind”.
The direction is clear, the aspiration of the brand matches the desire and needs of the customer, creating a tribe of users who will follow it until the end.
It can be a dangerous game for a brand by reactively adapting to the market demand for a particular service that doesn’t align with their values. I have no issue with Greggs creating a Vegan sausage roll as Greggs stands for, “great-tasting, freshly prepared food that customers can trust at affordable prices.’ A simple statement of intent which is easy to understand and maybe one day 3D printed food?
Supermarkets and other fast food outlets have been trying to compete in this space during Veganuary. You wonder though, do they actually care? Are they cutting out things like palm oil? What about animal welfare? The global impact? Or is it just a reaction?
To be clear, I’m not arguing for meat, Vegan, Vegetarian, Paleo or anything else, whatever makes you happy. I’m saying it’s a risky game to play with the equity of your brand. Equity being things like, how does the brand make the customer feel? Is it performing well? Is the customer coming back for more?
If you confuse what you do, then your customers and your tribe of followers will be confused. And then, they will move on.
Take The Rebel Whopper – the plant-based alternative to the meat whopper. Cool name and sounds good, who is it for? Vegetarians? Vegans? Nope, as it’s cooked on the same hot plate as the meat burger.
To some, this won’t matter, but to many Vegans, this is worse than getting a meat burger. In fairness to Burger King they do specify and tell you in-store that it’s cooked as above. But it makes you think, why bother? It’s confusing their current tribe of followers as well as frustrating the people out there who might have tried it i.e.Vegetarians or Vegans. Time will tell if they’ve made the right decision by jumping on the Brandwagon.
Being clear around your purpose, values, and what you stand for are crucial in differentiating yourself from a competitor.
Here are a few examples:
Brewgooder makes a damn good beer. But get this, they use, “craft beer to bring clean water and life to thousands of people”. Damn that’s good. You see it through their social content and website. It’s again a statement of intent that you believe in. Now when I treat myself to a few beers, albeit it’s not often, I always look for Brewgooder first. It makes me feel good knowing about the work they do, plus it’s a damn good beer.
Freedom Bakery has an awesome philosophy, “make great bread & help people”. Sounds nice, I like to bake too but what does it mean? Well, they work closely with the prison service to help prisoners learn how to bake, offer employment opportunities and give them a skill to leave with. You didn’t expect that, and neither did I when I saw the founder Matt give a talk about the brand. It’s an inspirational brand to look out for.
Dove is one of my go-to examples that I honestly love. They want to ‘achieve real beauty by building self esteem’. Wow, I want to live in that world. And guess what, Dove is helping to create it. They live and breath every word of it through their marketing, campaigns and the self-esteem project. A project for teachers, parents and youth leaders to help build positive body confidence. The brand is alive and the tribe of followers is strong.
Having a core purpose that helps others, shapes or changes the world in a way will set you apart. People will join your cause and your tribe will grow.
Overall be authentic, real, genuine, whatever word feels right to you.
But don’t jump on the Brandwagon.
You see through it. We see through it. And so will your tribe of customers.