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Kolsters misjon er at mennesker og planeten skal være næringslivets viktigste prioritet. Pirrende?

Thomas Kolster er en tungvekter innen merkevarebygging og bærekraft, og har bidratt med rådgivning til alt fra Fortune 500-selskaper, start-ups, myndigheter, byråer og veldedige organisasjoner. Han er grunnleggeren av Goodvertising-bevegelsen som har inspirert et positivt skifte innen markedsføring og har skrevet flere bøker – for å nevne noe.

Thomas Kolster holder foredrag på Den store annonsørdagen 13. oktober. I artikkelen under kan du lese hans refleksjoner rundt begrepet «purpose».

Purpose at a crossroad: Evolve or self-implode 

Purpose. It’s like a misunderstood Halloween, just because you put on that hero’s cape, you are not a hero. For most brands purpose is either viewed as a lifebuoy or as a crusade towards growth. But it’s no longer the differentiator, the love magnet or business driver it used to be back in the days when Dove’s “Real Beauty” was an outlier. Today, you can barely watch a commercial break or go to the supermarket without every brand pitching its Saint like gospel: “For a better world”, “Ridding our oceans of plastic” or “We believe in healthier communities”! Who to believe? Who’s authentic? Seems like purpose is up for sales like indulgences in the Middle Ages.

Who’s purpose? 

I began losing my belief in purpose, but all these years I had been asking the wrong questions. How many truly purposeful individuals do you know? Mandela? Gandhi? How many purposeful brands can you mention? We’re approaching a post-purpose market, where people aren’t buying your values, your big why or your actions, but who you can help them become. Everybody can claim to have values, but it’s the brand who have helped you become healthier, greener or fight biases, that’s going to win people’s trust and appear authentic. What brand has in fact created real positive change in your life? There are no room for more preachers in the marketplace, but we can all need a coach towards a better version of ourselves. It’s about time we move from asking the naval gazing why to who can you help people become? I call those brands asking WHO for transformative brands, because they put you and I as the agent of change, whereas classic purposeful brands put themselves as the agent of change. It’s coach versus preacher – and it’s two fundamentally different ways of looking at brand leadership. To better understand the difference, I collaborated with research experts GfK on The Purpose Impact Monitor comparing 10 transformative, 10 classic purposeful commercials and a baseline of regular commercials. 

The Purpose Impact Monitor unlocking brands, that inspire action 

One important contrast can be illustrated by a transformative commercial from Dove (“Reverse Selfie”) and a classic purpose commercial from Chipotle (“Can a Burrito Change the World?”). Have a look at the commercials yourself. 

Chipotle: Can a burrito change the world? Click here.

Dove: Reverse selfie. Click here.

The former takes a transformational approach, showing what it takes to push back on the pressure girls feel to look perfect on social media, while Chipotle’s is a classic purpose commercial focusing on the brand itself. While diagnostics for the two were similar in some ways, Dove scored significantly higher (+10%) on the action part such as “inspires me to be part of the change.” Or triggers such as “I want to learn more about the brand or the product” (+5%). This is an important and much-needed distinction. 

Transformative brands better at inspiring action

Building long-living brands

Our dreams, fears and aspirations are the building blocks of great, long-living brands that matter to people. The brands that get this are touching the very core of people’s being, the very top of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs – people’s urge to fulfil themselves through sports, arts, work or whatever rocks their boat. Think of the sense of safety you feel when driving a Volvo: you are a responsible mom or dad. Or think about the unhindered creativity when working on an Apple MacBook: you are truly a creative. It’s not about the product, it’s about who you become. 

Believe in people, and they’ll believe in themselves

Unless you as a brand focus and plan your efforts, and your entire brand for that matter, on enabling people’s transformation, you can’t be surprised if their intentions don’t convert to sales – or positive change. We have very little time to act on the climate emergency and at the same time a lot of the negative impact from companies are in fact in the hands of people for example washing detergent using water and energy. And lastly, if we’re to understand the business case behind purpose, we need to understand how we can help people cross the intent to action gap – and inspire them to choose better!

A new transformative leadership 

When you as a brand is on a mission to transform people’s lives at every step, your resources, thinking and activity bring you closer to enabling people and ultimately changing behaviours and driving sales. Take the mindful running company District Vision: their transformative promise is to get more runners to become mindful. Part of the customer journey is to join classes, get inspired in the store, which eventually leads to buying District’s products, which leads to profit. District Vision has a strong growth case to suggest so. It’s a win–win for company and people.

On a journey together towards better 

People’s expectations are getting higher every day. Reports, certificates and glossy marketing campaigns won’t cut it anymore. This is not a race for transparency, it’s not a race to being better, but a race to make a meaningful difference in people’s lives. The idea of a consumer defined only by buying is giving way to a new role where it’s all about better living or self-actualisation. From having worked on behaviour change campaigns targeting alcoholics, I know that the only thing they need is someone who believes in them. Someone who believes that they can change, when they often have given up hope themselves. It’s worth helping people help themselves. Your brand is no greater than what you can make people achieve. As the research hints, the rewards are plentiful for both brand and people. It’s time to evolve purpose!

Les mer om Thomas Kolster på hans hjemmesider her.

Den Store Annonsørdagen arrangeres 13. okotober

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