Brand Movements … facilitating communities with purpose

November 11, 2015

The best brands engage their customers in their passions, facilitating their collective aspirations.

This goes far beyond seeking to build relationships with customers. Few customers trust brands, let alone want a relationship with a company. More likely, customers would like to connect with people like them, who share their passions and aspirations. Brands that facilitate communities of interest, therefore become more relevant and valuable. Think Nike+ Running Club sharing a love of running, or Harley Owners Group on a ride together. However the best brands go even further.

The best brands build movements.

When people really care about something, they start to promote their passion – be it spiritual enlightenment, the love of adventure travel, belief in a better society, or a protest against something. Participants become activists, crusading to achieve something more. Dove achieved this, creating a “campaign” not by the brand but by the millions of real women who believed in real beauty. Challenger brands are naturally good at this, built around the desire to change something, to make it better. Positive Luxury, an online lifestyle brand community, mobilises its participants to demand more from brands, in particular that they are more sustainable in their impact, and then curates those that do.

In his book “Uprising” Scott Goodson explores the concept of movement marketing. Whilst some brands – like Toms One for One and even Raspberry Pi – have engaged huge audiences in their social-related initiatives, it is charities who have been more effective at building their brands around a shared cause, rather than just doing good

“Movements” are communities with an active purpose, not just to share something, but to come together to achieve more. It might be a protesting or political movement like Greenpeace or Occupy, or it might be a collaborative goal, like ParkRun provides free local runs or Fairtrade. Movements tend to require more organisation than passive communities, and therefore provide more scope for brand’s to play a valuable role.

The movement builds the brand by identifying and aligning with an idea that is rising culturally. It articulates the idea more clearly, acting as a catalyst to bring people together and get involved. The movement requires organisation, a platform through which people can join and connect, have more influence and stronger voice together, rally and bring about change.

Movements challenge the conventional marketing model because they are more about the group, than individual. Instead of selling, they promote sharing. Instead of the brand’s purpose, they promote the group’s purpose. However this is entirely in line with the power shift to customers, and collective potential of social media. One of my clients, Philosophy skincare brand, has a deeply engaged audience motivated by the brand’s positive outlook on life, and a loyalty to each other, as much as to the brand itself. Rather than just satisfying their own needs, consumers are much more motivated to support each other, to give through gifting rather than buying, and to promote more positive attitudes and lifestyles.

Movements are about bringing together people with a shared passion, and facilitating markets on a mission.

© Peter Fisk 2015

This is an short extract from Gamechangers by Peter Fisk

Explore more examples in the Mobilise

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