In a recent interview, millennial expert Jason Dorsey made this observation about Gen Z (those born after 1995). “They are really joining a brand rather than just wearing one.”
Many social commentators believe that the generation entering the workforce today are more interested in purposeful storytelling – the story behind the brand than the brand itself. The millennials were happy to wear the brand, Gen Z want to join it.
The story of “Wear it on your sleeve”
In 2016 “Understand Your Brand” launched a Kickstarter project called “Wear It On Your Sleeve” (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/understandyourbrand/wear-it-on-your-sleeve-t-shirts). The product was a T-shirt with different coloured sleeves ethically sourced. “Wear it on your sleeve” was a take on Shakespeare’s Othello; as the idiom goes, ‘wearing your heart on your sleeve’ is about displaying your true emotions and being transparent.
The marketing description included: The different coloured sleeve captures and represents the story behind our shirt: a beautiful product made halfway around the world by men and women who are given the opportunity to thrive in their occupations and lives while providing for their families.
The promotion was over-subscribed.
We are seeing a generation emerge who are not just satisfied to wear the brand, they want to join it!
What does this tell us about the current shift in brand awareness and marketing? Simply that if you want to get traction in marketing today, make sure there is a purposeful story behind your brand that consumers want to sign up to.
The story of Thankyou
Daniel Flynn of Thankyou Water described his new venture as a “Consumer Movement”. On their website, we read this:
It started with an impossible idea: a bottle of water that exists to help end the World Water Crisis. That idea has now grown to over 55 products, from personal care products to nappies and baby care.
We are Thankyou, a social enterprise that commits 100% of our profit to end global poverty. Today, you can find us in over 5,500 outlets in Australia, including all major supermarkets. The Thankyou consumer movement has raised millions of dollars to get safe water, toilets and child and maternal health programs to hundreds and thousands of people in need.
What began as an impossible idea, dreamed up by Daniel Flynn, his best mate Jarryd, and girlfriend (now wife) Justine, is now backed by a passionate team of 50, and a consumer movement of thousands.
“Consumer movement” could sound like a fluffy, throw-away phrase. But picture this. For 5 years, the major supermarkets in Australia had said no to Thankyou. Then one day we launched this video (https://youtu.be/wlvgt4qyJZM) and thousands of people began petitioning to the supermarkets. Two LEGENDARY helicopter pilots, Peter and Geoff, donated their time to fly these signs above the head offices of those two supermarkets and in record-breaking time, both said yes. Products hit the shelves, including our hand wash that has since become number one in the category. You might have seen it at your fave brunch spot.
With the idea working in Australia, we launched a book titled “Chapter One” to crowdfund the launch of Thankyou in New Zealand and beyond. Within two hours of this launch video, we’d raised $360,000, with now over $1.9 million raised and counting. The book is sold at a pay what you want price with people paying from $0.05 (don’t be that guy) to $50,000 for a copy. In airport bookstores it was second to only the Harry Potter book launch. And it’s only the first chapter.
Write the future with us.
I would suggest that the “consumer movement” is the way of the future. Brands with a story that consumers are compelled to join will be the winners in tomorrow’s marketing success stories.
Two ways to create a consumer movement
Brands can choose between two options in this consumer movement era. They can be the story, or they can partner with the story. Thankyou Water and Wear It On Your Sleeve are two examples of purposeful storytelling, of being the story.
Buy1Give1 is a great example of partnering with the story www.b1g1.com/businessforgood
In 2007, a group of small-business owners had an idea. What if, for every product or service sold, a small portion of the profit was given to a charitable cause? Even a few cents per transaction could make a difference. Buy1Give1 has grown to over 2100 businesses from around the world, each one making significant impacts every day. Consumers are informed of the difference their purchase has made in alleviating poverty.
Increasingly, consumers will not only compare your product with that of your competitors, they will compare your story. Their choice will also be based on the ‘good that they can do by engaging with you’. If you don’t have a purposeful story, you will soon be surpassed by your competitors.
Brand IQ is passionate about identifying and telling your story. Whether you choose to be the story or find a cause with a close alignment to your corporate values to partner with, we can help you create a more purposeful brand story that really connects with your customers.