Conviction Matters: What Real Purpose Looks Like During Covid

A list of meaningful brand actions, not just talk

These days, purpose-driven brands feel like they are a dime a dozen. Everyone talks about purpose, because purpose has become profitable. According to Zeno Group's 2020 Strength of Purpose study, consumers are four times more likely to purchase from the brand with purpose.

But what if the true purpose is being OK with not being profitable? About doing things and saying things that are unpopular. That could lose customers. Lose sales.

Being a brand with conviction means being comfortable with being uncomfortable, with not getting caught up in politics or red tape. It's a gut feeling between right and wrong that stems from having a clear reason for being, that can't necessarily be quantified or supported with data.

While the majority of consumers believe brands should have a strong purpose, only 37 percent percent think most companies have a clear or strong purpose.

This tells me brands with purpose are not demonstrating enough conviction behind their beliefs—at the very time when consumers have more conviction than ever. In fact, 76 percent of global consumers indicate they will act against brands whose purpose, values or behaviors they disagree with, by no longer buying from the brand, switching to a competitor, or discouraging others from buying or supporting it.

During the last 21 weeks of unrest, brands with conviction knew how to act and got their first-mover advantage. For example, at the start of the Covid-19 crisis in mid-March, Netflix announced it had created a $100 million relief fund to help members of the creative community who had been left unemployed and without a way to earn an income during the coronavirus crisis. A little more than two weeks after the murder of George Floyd, Jordan Brand announced a $100 million donation to fight for racial equality. Disney could have moved first. Adidas could have moved first. But they didn't. The brands with a clearer brand purpose and more conviction moved first.

And those that moved did so in one of three ways: New Money, New Recognition, or New Support. 

—New Money

Offering financial relief, creating new platforms for fundraising, and providing essential services and items.

Covid-19 Brand Actions

Snapchat: Created an AR donation tool allowing users to donate via the app. It uses Snapchat's camera tech to scan 23 international currency notes across 33 countries, which triggers an AR visualization of ways their donations can support the WHO's immediate response efforts.
Apple: Sourced and distributed 20 million masks to healthcare workers. Apple teams will continue to design, produce and ship face masks for medical workers.
Taco Bell: Donated $1 million to No Kid Hungry and gave customers the option to round up and donate with their order.
Bacardi: Is giving bars in London and Manchester a "virtual bar" platform to sell their cocktails to local customers and have them delivered. 
Instagram: Added a Covid-19 section to its donation sticker section, making it easier for people to donate via IG.

Anti-Racist Brand Actions

Adidas: Made a $120 million donation to support Black communities in the U.S., and committed to fill a minimum of 30 percent of all new positions with Black and Latinx people.
DoorDash: Is matching loans for Black-owned U.S.-based restaurants approved for loans by Kiva, a nonprofit online money lender.
Bank of America: Will donate $1 billion and four years of support at the local community level to help with economic and racial inequality.

—New Recognition

Recognizing and supporting first responders and amplifying Black voices. 

Covid-19 Brand Actions

Dove: Updated its "Real Beauty" campaign to feature healthcare workers. 
Grazia U.K.: Replaced its usual celebrity cover star with four female healthcare professionals, as a way to recognize the real heroes of the pandemic.
Google: Created a series of Doodles thanking the coronavirus helpers, from scientists to sanitation workers, for their critical work.

Anti-Racist Brand Actions

YouTube: Announced a $100 million fund "dedicated to amplifying and developing the voices of Black creators and artists."
iHeartMedia: Launched a 24/7 national news service dedicated to providing news with a Black voice and perspective.
Doritos: Is donating $650,000 in billboard ad inventory to Black artists, as part of a $1 million plan that also includes $200,000 for artists' work and a $150,000 donation to Black Lives Matter.
CBS: Beginning with the 2021-22 season, 25 percent of its scripted development budget will be allocated to projects created or co-created by BIPOC talent. The network is also partnering with the NAACP to develop and produce unscripted and documentary content to expand the number of diverse voices and tell inclusive stories.

—New Support

Education, information, and statements of intent.

Covid-19 Brand Actions

Mattel: Launched a free online resource called the Playroom, with activities and content from the company's portfolio of brands.
Calm: Offering free meditations on IG, and opening an entire section of the website for free meditation/relaxation resources when peoples' anxieties are high.
Facebook: Is adding two new features to its platform to help dispel myths about Covid-19, which will include a dedicated section to share facts about the virus.
Walmart: Is turning 160 of its store parking lots into drive-in movie theaters, and is launching virtual summer camps to help Americans adapt to a summer with social distancing.

Anti-Racist Brand Actions

Nickelodeon: The children's network went off the air for 8 minutes and 46 seconds and simply played the sound of breathing. The move was to educate and help kids understand the significance of the event. They also released a kid's declaration of kids' rights.
Ben & Jerry's: Made a blunt statement, calling for the dismantling of white supremacy and directly addressing the president.
YouTube, Reddit and Twitch: Have banned several prominent white supremacist channels and creators (including a Twitch suspension on Trump's channel for "hateful conduct").
Lego: Donated $4 million to organizations supporting Black children's education and educating all children to racial discrimination and inequality. 

I find this 22-page list of brand-purpose efforts during Covid-19 inspiring. I hope you do, too. For those that made this list, we thank you for your good brand actions. In summary, the best marketers know the role of brand purpose is not to make a marketer feel like they're doing something more meaningful, but rather to do something more meaningful.

Let's continue to make a meaningful difference where we can.

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Matt Hofherr
Matt Hofherr is CSO and co-founder of MUH-TAY-ZIK | HOF-FER.

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