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PEOPLE & CULTURE

Do Good Now. Five Non-negotiables for Taking Your Brand Into the Future

Heather Mierzejewski, VOLTAGE

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The millennial demographic tsunami coupled with a rising tide of technology washed away traditional marketing practices driven primarily by “selling” and created a new landscape for companies.

And what’s one big demand Millennials bring to the checkout counter? Increased social responsibility. Every brand must take heed or miss out on the projected $1.4 trillion Millennials will dump in the retail market by 2020, according to Statista projections.

To earn that business, companies – and the agencies helping them – must do good now. We’ve compiled five key principles for doing good the right way. Even if you or your clients already do good, refining according to these principles is essential for future success.

Create something good that lasts. Everyone loses when lowest price is the focus.

Creating beautiful, useful things that last for a long time has become a clear differentiator. This holds especially true for younger shoppers.

Plus, it’s hard to compete on price alone. You can’t beat Walmart, Target, Amazon or other big box retailers at their own game. When you emphasize lasting value instead, the rest falls into place.

Conscious consumers are rejecting the pervasive, one-time-use culture and seeking products they can rely on – goods with a story, things that get better with age. Your customers want to feel good about what they wear, use and consume.

Brands who don’t embrace this shift are bound to find themselves designing for the landfill.

Be mission driven. It attracts the RIGHT customers.

We live in a polarized world, which makes it increasingly difficult for brands to avoid taking a stand. So how do successful brands navigate this landscape pockmarked with sensitive pitfalls?

Know who you are. Understand your mission. And align everything you do around that.

A few years ago, “authenticity” was the big buzzword. Brands needed to be “true to themselves” and own the good and the bad of their business. But being mission driven goes deeper. When your brand is driven by both values and purpose, you don’t just know who you are, you know who you WANT to be, and you work to get there. A mission-driven company understands they’re not perfect, but they have a roadmap in hand for making the world a better place.

Reframe the idea of your brand, your ethos, your place in the world. Know what sacrifices you’re willing to make in order to do the right thing. Think past the obvious environmental impacts to the people crafting your merchandise, the people you hire and even how to speak up when political controversy erupts.

Look to the long term. It makes things “stick.”

Change doesn’t happen overnight. Especially when you’re meticulous about crafting a systemic approach designed for the long haul.

Consider the “stickiness” adidas created through their recent collaboration with Parley for the Oceans. In 2015, adidas made waves when it partnered with aquatic advocates Parley for the Oceans to give plastic beach waste a second life as performance footwear. The adidas x Parley UltraBOOST collection launched using Econyl thread, a technical fiber made from this plastic trash that functions like nylon. Each shoe removes 11 plastic bottles from oceans and beaches.

Designing for the long-term means committing to something that’s bigger than your brand alone – and that’s a story people want to hear and join.

Fill the room with people who know more than you.

If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room. Gather in people who know more and have different strengths to fill gaps or weaknesses. It’s important to talk to the right people, or rather, listen to them.

These conversations should be ongoing and constantly evolving, just like our world and the marketing landscape. Keep an eye on what your colleagues and competitors are creating and doing. When we collaborate and inspire each other, creativity increases and innovation makes the world a better place.

Have hope. It’s worth it.

The next chapter for the fashion industry (among others) will unfold only through innovation, practical action and a commitment to working toward the solutions. A perfect example: The Amsterdam-based organization Fashion for Good. They promote collaboration around circular fashion, or the idea that conscientious consumers shop for VALUE and buy things that last.

All in all, there’s a lot to be optimistic about.

The founder of Taylor Stitch said something that’s really stuck with us: “I believe business is the best source of change. I think profits mean you have money to do something good.”

Wow, right? Maybe that’s not how the average CEO sees it. But if you want to be mission driven, this is a good place to start

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About the author: Heather McWilliams Mierzejewski joined VOLTAGE in 2015 after escaping journalism’s tentacles. She crafts accurate, relevant and creative copy and thrives in detail-oriented, deadline-driven situations. She relishes telling clients’ stories and is dedicated to teamwork, quality and connection. She’s passionate about innovation, creativity, and people.