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Attaching to a Cause
By: Janet Kalandranis
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People love warm and fuzzy feelings and happy smiles. Any brand that can create these for a customer is able to have an emotional connection that is priceless. It’s above product features, low prices, and even accessibility. It makes the brand feel more real, more connected, and more in tune with its customers. However, brands can’t simply say they're providing warm and fuzzy feelings or happy smiles; they must create these feelings in a way that is believable. Saying isn’t doing and customers can sense that.

Customers are used to brands aligning with a cause. It’s almost expected of every brand (consumer or not) to stand for something and be part of a movement that is outside its products and services. However, today’s customers want brands to truly make an impact instead of writing a check to a national organization. Brands have handled this shift in corporate responsibility in various ways, and those that do it well are rewarded with engaged customers and loyal brand activists.

Starbucks is probably number one in the responsibility arena. From the environment to sourcing to its focus on community, customers are highly educated on the impact Starbucks has in various outlets. There are full teams dedicated to the overarching responsibility platform and marketing plans created to support not only the company but the goal of moving an initiative forward. Starbucks is also very vocal about its connections and, although this seems like a no-brainer, it’s a risky but celebrated move for a brand. This allows customers to comment on Starbucks’ interactions with responsibility and be part of the brand to support its cause.

The key to success for attaching to a cause isn’t “one size fits all.” First and foremost, companies need to support a cause that aligns with how the brand does business and is sustainable throughout the years. Switching from one cause to another tells customers that a brand is simply writing that check to score brownie points. Brands also need to be able to support the cause; what is the strategy to make a difference and what will a brand do to get there? And don’t forget about the customer. They want to be involved, take part, and feel like the brand was the reason they could be a part of something bigger. Who wouldn’t love a brand that does that?

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About the Author
Janet Kalandranis is here to give you all the little brand thoughts that run through her head with a little dash of spice. Find her online here.
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