Partly to appeal to Millennials, many brands are reframing what they do to sound purpose-driven. Many marketers are feeling pressure to define their “brand purpose” and create campaigns with a higher cause.
The more brands that jump on the purpose bandwagon, however, the more that consumers will be skeptical and cynical about companies’ motivations, even if their motivations are sincere.
Chipotle has been leading with brand purpose for several years with its powerful message to “Cultivate a Better World” (The Scarecrow last month and Back to the Start in 2011). Chipotle is one of the more successful companies in branding with purpose.
Yet even Chipotle has been drawing criticism. The New Yorker wrote, “we’re reminded that Chipotle is a ‘giant corporation,’ tugging at our heartstrings with oppressed bovines not because of a genuine interest in sustainability or animal welfare but to make us buy burritos.”
Many brands are watching Chipotle closely as inspiration for their own purpose-driven campaigns. On the surface, it can seem as simple as making an animated movie about sustainability. Yet marketers need to remember that substance is more important than storytelling. More important than messaging, brands have to practice what they preach.
Brand purpose has to be sincere.
(Marketoonist Monday: I’m giving away a signed print of this week’s cartoon. Just share an insightful comment to this week’s post by 5:00 PST on Monday. Thanks!)