Alongside taste, quality, and performance, consumers are increasingly demanding brands that show attitude, and stand for ethically as well as ecologically sound business. Do you see it that way too? Will brand manufacturers in future have no choice but to do good and talk about it?
HK: Yes, definitely. Social developments clearly reveal the need for brand owners to show a responsible attitude in order to reach certain target groups. Consumers also expect more and that offer positive added value and create meaning. Essentially, the brand must be authentic in this and also pursue this attitude in the long term. This means that it is not necessary to have an opinion and stance on every issue, but only on those that are important to the brand. But this must then also be consistently followed through. Only then can the brand have something to say on any given issue.
How can and should brand owners communicate their performance regarding sustainability and ethics – for example, style, choice of media and media format?
In communication, it is crucial to be authentic – that has the greatest priority. The basis here is the correct positioning of the brand. The majority of brands have some catching up to do, especially with regard to their unique selling propositions – also in terms of their social, ethical, and ecological commitment. The communication style must be derived and developed from this positioning. A established health product will probably use a different language than a young and bold start-up. The choices of media and approach are determined by the respective target group.
‘Purpose content’ is often distributed via social media, as users can quickly share messages through likes and shares. Polarising content, in particular, can generate a lot of exposure through viral spread.
How transparently do brand owners have to deal with issues where there is still a need for action? And what happens if the communication is not credible?
HK: Authenticity and credibility are highly interdependent. Finding the right position is often a fine line: If I as a brand stand for a certain issue but am not transparent about it, it will have a negative impact on my credibility – this is no different to people. This means that as a brand I have to be aware in advance where I can sustain this transparency in the long term. If I’m unsure about certain issues, it’s better to stay away from them!
Interview PRODUCT, 05/2021