Brand Purpose & Credibility: Key to survival for Brands

15 Jun,2021


By Bhuvi Gupta


Bhuvi GuptaThe last few weeks have had us all heaving a huge sigh of relief. The hold that the Covid-19 Delta variant had taken over our lives seems to have abated for the time being. We are all now in between where we have a longing to return to business as usual (usual being the new normal) at least for the short term but are scared about when the Third Wave will rear its ugly head.


The storm of the last month made us all grateful for the positive power of the social media. And Dettol captures this sense of gratitude perfectly in its timely Covid warriors campaign which has just been launched. It hits the ball out of the park for multiple reasons – the timing, the ‘grateful’ mood of the nation, how it captures brand’s promise of protection and safety, and its high virality quotient.



We all depended on Covid warriors the past few months – these are people who managed to save lives by foraging for medicines, ventilators and beds by using social media and extending their networks. It is influencer marketing campaign but in a respectful way because atypical ‘influencers’ are being used. By using influencers, Dettol gets the benefit of their reach and engagement thereby ensuring virality. The campaign replaces its branding on the package to celebrate these unsung heroes. Packaging has long been an under-leveraged branding vehicle. The campaign is hence a win all the way and is bound to pick up many a pencil, elephant and metal.


Dove and  ‘Hair Love’


I have talked about how with the information overload that the internet and specifically social media has decreased mental bandwidth for retaining advertising in many of my pieces.  Long-form marketing, content marketing, product placements that add credibility to the product narrative hence become more important to kindle a desire to purchase. Internationally, Dove and Nike are both investing in being true to their brand purpose.


It has always fascinated me that the 2020 Oscar-winning short film, Hair Love was funded via a Kickstarter campaign and that a major participant in the Kickstarter was Unilever-owned Dove. Despite funding the short film, Dove did not try an overt product placement but kept its participation covert.  Just as other entities that contributed to the Kickstarter, Dove only appears in the ending credits. Because the messaging was true to the brand narrative, it helped market the film by arranging for community screenings, and reaching out to tastemakers and media.  This did not help them to sell products but it did help them to cement their perception as a brand which was genuine.


Nike – Breaking2

A similar case is of Nike. Nike has set the bar for sports marketing in the last few decades and they are constantly raising it to ensure they maintain a high share of voice.  In 2014, Nike set out to do what was impossible at the time – a project to break the two-hour marathon barrier. The documentary Breaking2 captured the entire three-year journey that culminated in an unsuccessful attempt in May 2017. While the star marathoner, Eliud Kipchoge missed the 2 hour mark by a mere 26 seconds in 2017, he achieved the feat in 2019.


The project leveraged science and research to create an optimum environment which enabled the carefully chosen athletes a shot at breaking the record. The environment comprised of the perfect shoe, the best possible time of year, the track, a mechanism to manage headwinds (which affect speed) and many other miniscule parameters.


While the project executed over a three-year period was directly linked to Nike’s products, it was the larger objective of relentless effort to enhance performance to test the limits of human endurance and capability, which made it closer to brand purpose than marketing communication.


It was hence a perfect balance – communication that served a larger purpose while also enabling the company to sell shoes.


Brand purpose is key in 2021. Customers want brands to embody an inspiring ethos, have a strong point of view and take actions to spread their purpose rather than communicate only to sell products.


In a crowded market, the only way a brand can stand out today is to add credibility in communication.  Marketing is inherently transactional in nature, but communication which leads with brand purpose is key to move customers down the funnel and make them return, especially for products which are easily replaceable.

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