Purpose Driven: Brave Brands

In case you missed it (and it’s nearly impossible to), brands are coming out of the woodwork with ads, emails and otherwise with messages of support and encouragement during these strange days.  Other brands, however, are taking it a step further, making bold, purpose driven moves that deserve a little attention. These are the brands that have stepped up in some pretty extraordinary ways to offer comfort, solutions, and peace of mind. Here are a few of our favorite examples.

Trek Light Gear is a two-person camping and adventure brand that’s known for its heart — every purchase gives back to environmental, education, or cancer causes. In light of the current crisis, the company has added an interesting new twist, to an already purpose-driven brand: a “pay what you can” program. It’s pretty simple: the company’s home page lists a series of discount codes to use. If you can afford the item at its usual price, the owners ask you to pay the full amount to support those who can’t. (It is a small business, after all.) They’ve also added a virtual tip jar for people who want to support the program without a purchase.

Why it matters: It seems counterintuitive for a small business to let people choose their own discounts. But the pay-what-you-can model hinges on the notion that most people want to do the right thing. And for a brand that’s already known for doing good, it makes perfect sense.

Auto insurance companies from coast to coast are issuing rebates of all kinds to their policyholders. With shelter-in-place orders significantly reducing driving, many consumers can expect to get some sort of credit on their bills. Some companies are also adding options like policy pause, payment hold, and other solutions to ease financial burdens.

Why it matters: When fewer people are driving, there are fewer accidents. And when there are fewer accidents, insurance pays out far less. These rebates give insurance brands a way to reinforce their messages about protection, especially as layoffs and furloughs start to ramp up. 

Since March 25, Crocs has been giving away 10,000 pairs of shoes every day to front-line healthcare workers. The brand, already a favorite in the healthcare industry, asked workers what they needed most — and the answer was shoes. So the company launched its “Free Pair for Healthcare” program. Each day at noon, workers visit the Crocs website to “get in line.” Once they submit basic information like job role and work site, the selected shoes are sent out immediately.

Why it matters: This is a great example of knowing your audience and providing obvious value when they need it most. What’s more: it’s a perfect way to introduce your brand to new customers, and to solidify the brand’s position in the minds of the already converted.

These initiatives are important to pay attention to, for a few reasons:

  • We may be a little uncomfortable with thinking about it right now, but the various responses that brands are making? They are, in fact, marketing campaigns. They just look a little different. It will be interesting to watch what happens with revenues, profits, and loyalty as a result of efforts like these.
  • Generation Z is currently the largest group of consumers on the planet, and they’ve made it clear that they prefer supporting brands that have a purpose. In the age of COVID-19, companies need to think about the greater good, and not just their own.
  • Even a few months ago, encountering a purpose-driven brand felt more like the exception than the rule. The pandemic may be singlehandedly changing how the majority of brands behave. Will it last? We’re curious to see whether brands act differently when all of this is behind us.

Shared experiences, good and bad, present a unique opportunity for brands to communicate to their audiences in new ways that are more human. During a crisis, communicating isn’t about selling things, it’s about solving things — meeting basic needs, simplifying the complicated, or streamlining processes for the benefit of customers. For once, it’s not important how big or flashy the contribution is; it’s just important that one gets made.

With so many brands doing amazing things for their customers and communities, it may be that 2020 is the year that exposes the better side in all of us. And that includes brands.