Movement Marketing: How to Start a Brand Revolution

Sep 20, 2017

Movement Marketing: How to Start a Brand Revolution

Deloitte wanted to understand how brands could create a movement. They interviewed seasoned marketing professionals and reviewed all of the published materials on the subject. The entire article is here.

“The first task was defining terms. Deloitte’s research revealed that a brand itself cannot be a movement on its own, but it can help spawn a movement. That usually happens at the point of intersection between a brand identity and a social trend, unmet need, or untapped passion.”

Essentially, the brand solves a problem that people need to solve or they expose an opportunity that customers can rally behind. The examples they cite include Tom’s Shoes, where the company’s donation of a pair of shoes to people in need for every pair purchased has now taken on a life of its own. And Tom’s, as a brand, has enabled a movement. Another example is Starbucks, which used coffee to create a third place to meet, away from home and work.

Take Five: The Essentials

Deloitte research uncovered that five characteristics are essential to spur a movement and only strong brands need apply. They must:

1. Inspire and evoke emotion

2. Encourage involvement

3. Create and build community

4. Provide a way for people to visually display their commitment

5. Are authentic and transparent

I think these five characteristics are somewhat obvious if we think about it. If we combine numbers one and number five, we’d just be a good brand.  Adding the other three extends the brand’s impact beyond the transaction itself, which is the key for sustaining a movement. But Deloitte’s research didn’t stop there; they also identified an additional five elements that distinguish a brand-fueled movement beyond these basic brand characteristics. They are:

Take Five More: How to Distinguish a Brand-Fueled Movement

1. There is purpose beyond the brand and the transaction.

Simon Sinek, the author of Start With Why, uses the premise that “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” Brands that are fueled by a central truth and purpose that rings true with customers have a chance of starting something bigger.

2. It captures something anthropologic.

The experts in the research point to the 2016 U.S. presidential election where deep-rooted attitudes and beliefs grew like-minded communities and followers that became bigger than the candidates.

3. There is a strong call to action and a clear role for customers.

Brands can become enablers for customers by bringing them together for events, contests, etc. Refer to number 4 above and how the display (swag, logo shirts, etc.) of connection builds community.

4. The movement drives cultural or behavioral change or is aligned with a fundamental shift in social values.

Changing perception is one thing, but changing behavior is really tough. When it happens, it is absorbed into the culture, and in a very short time people adjust to the brand’s impact and act accordingly – think Starbucks and the iPhone

5. The movement has enduring impact.

One of the experts in the research had this to say: “To know if it is a brand-fueled movement, ask yourself: ‘Could you make a documentary about this brand?’”

Creating a Brand-Fueled Movement

Is there a formula or blueprint for developing a movement? The simple answer is maybe. It’s difficult to predict how a brand might start a revolution, just like it’s hard to know what content might go viral at any time.

Brand-Fueled Movements: Magical but Conceivable

Following this preliminary investigation into the science of brand-fueled movements, it’s clear that brands can’t simply follow a playbook to create the passionate customer communities that fuel and energize long-term brand-fueled movements.

The answer lies in how much energy and resources a company has available to invest to get their brand into the spotlight, hoping for a groundswell movement from their customers. Every marketer wants to catch lightning in a bottle, but the customer always determines the proof of a brand’s success.

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