The Five Elements That Matter

What do Starbucks, Toms, and Apple all have in common?  They began by an inspired leader who set out to create change.  They invented new categories.  Today we call them cause-related or passion brands but what even is a passion brand?

A passion brand is not a brand that consumers purchase purely out of habit, it's a brand they have an emotional connection with and want to be identified with by their peers. 

It’s one thing to desire for your brand to become a passion brand but its another thing altogether for you to actually achieve it.  The work of building a brand happens in small steps or you might say it happens in single promotions or campaigns and build over time.  So what is important to your campaign that will set it on the right path?

In 2016, The Harvard Business Review analyzed the nominees at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.  This festival recognizes the best in advertising and marketing as practiced around the world.  One category is cause campaigns that the organization calls “The Grand Prix for Good.”

The Harvard Business Review studied the 49 finalists searching for the combined elements which would made these campaigns so effective.  What they found overall was that the base-line tone or “about” of the campaign is not what made them effective. Rather, they found a few key elements as vital to the success of the campaign.

The initial analysis showed that while the campaigns tended to cluster toward the emotional end, there were a healthy number of campaigns spread across every area of the grid. Maybe it’s not the appeal/argument of a cause campaign alone that makes it successful. These are the elements of a cause marketing campaign that matter:

1: The Name Of Your Campaign Matters - Create a simple and inspiring message that contains a very compelling, simple handle (Think hashtags)  

2: Strong Visual Storytelling Matters - People are reading less and less.  Studies show that people read only about 20% of today’s web pages and are driven more by an image or short video rather than being text-based.  Think in combination of image and text.  Text is still vital to SEO.  

3: A Real Experience Matters - The marketing term here is “activation.”  Create a real exhibit or installation where the public can interact with your campaign.  While this physical element of the campaign may be experienced only by few, they can be witnessed by many through earned and social media.

4:  Social Sharing and Earned Media Matters - The award-winning campaigns didn’t rely on one type of storytelling; they provided multiple media types designed specifically for what’s effective in each social channel.

5. Doing Something Small Matters - Your cause needs to focus on a big issue but find small steps to create simple personal action.  So yes, talk about your core issue but find ways for people to take personal responsibility as a show of commitment to the issue.   

 If you use these five elements and focus on cause engagement over cause announcement your outcome will be effective - and way more interesting.  

Books Related To This Topic That Can Change Your Thinking :

Bold: How To Go Big, Make Bank, and Change The World

Growth Hacker Marketing

The Obstacle Is The Way

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Written by Aaron Manes For The Groundswell
The Groundswell is a Communications Strategy and Digital Marketing Agency
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