Picture: 123RF/tassev
Picture: 123RF/tassev

In a post-Covid climate, organisations need to be socially and culturally aware. This means that now, more than ever, consumers invest in brands that lead with purpose over profit. But amid numerous competing global considerations such as climate change, gender equality and racial inclusion, among others, how do brands make a sustained impact, and what is the role that brands should be playing in the social, cultural and environmental ecosystem?

This was the topic of a recent FM Redzone discussion, moderated by TILT chief creative officer Arye Kellman.

Standout global leaders during the Covid pandemic were primarily all females, including Germany’s Angela Merkel and New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern. What made them stand out is that they led with empathy, pointed out Khensani Nobanda, group executive for group marketing and corporate affairs at Nedbank.

Similarly, she added, brands that did well through the pandemic were those that showed empathy. For its part, Nedbank provided its customers with payment holidays and waived ATM fees at the height of the pandemic.

For Nedbank, empathy is not merely for its own sake but also because clients will remember how brands supported them through the crisis, said Nobanda. “Our priorities were supporting our employees and helping our clients transition through this crisis. Successful brands understand that empathy is a lever which affects loyalty in the long term.”

Without empathy a brand is nothing in a services-orientated business like financial services, said Ryan Parkhurst, head of marketing at Investec Wealth & Investment SA. Empathy, he added, is about understanding what’s keeping clients up at night and empowering employees to deliver solutions to their anxieties. “It’s the softer things at the edges that really matter,” he said, adding that a brand’s purpose must be demonstrated and lived.

The director of brand and innovation at Kantar, Marilyn Dutlow Munga, said that unprecedented times call for unprecedented actions. “Consumers demand that brands step up in an actionable way,” she said, adding that companies with a strong sense of purpose typically grow 40% faster than those that don’t, indicating that purpose isn’t only the right thing to do but is also good business.

However, authenticity has to come before purpose, insisted Grid Worldwide MD Masego Motsogi, adding that the purpose has to be authentic and appropriate for the brands. For some organisations, parading their purpose will not be appropriate. However, those brands with a clear understanding of their brand positioning and purpose are able to more successfully navigate challenging times.

The big take-out: Companies with a strong sense of purpose typically grow 40% faster than those that don’t, indicating that purpose isn’t only the right thing to do but is also good business.

Make sure to take a look at the upcoming FM Redzone digital events, which will examine whether decision-making has shifted to millennial marketers and marketers’ mindsets heading into 2022.  Click here for more information and to register.

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