Is being who you are more important than what people think? Most people would tend to agree, in theory that is. More often than not, the fear, shyness or nerves take over and we think twice about yelling at our boss or telling our best friend what we really think about their new hair colour.
But when it comes to businesses in the complex digital ecosystem, the key to being understood and liked by a group of customers is to be heard, no matter how others react: saying something bold and different is better than saying nothing at all (or saying the same thing as everybody else).
Today’s information-loaded digital world offers brands new opportunities to communicate directly with their audiences and build both positive relationships, as well as opposition.
Take for instance Dove’s multi-channel ‘Campaign for Real Beauty’. The campaign was based on a major study which revealed that only 2% of women around the world would describe themselves as beautiful.
A series of TV commercials, print ads, and online conversations began to focus in on what appeared to be a lovely, uplifting message – the need for a wider definition of beauty.
But critics soon began to speak out: Why were all the women in the ads and videos young and Caucasian? Why was Dove still preaching that beauty is paramount over brains? Why was the company’s message at odds with its products?
No doubt Dove was brave saying what it did on a worldwide stage. It’s not often you see a beauty brand attempting to challenge what we think is beautiful. However, let’s take a look at what this clear and confident positioning really did for the brand:
The ‘Campaign for Real Beauty’ was the first digital campaign to drive participants to a supportive online community that reached over 200 million people worldwide, with over 26 million people participating in the campaign online.
Despite inevitable criticisms, Dove engaged millions of customers (or potential customers). Such engagement would have indeed helped to build trust in the brand and its values.
What about you, have you nailed your brand identity and values? And most importantly, are they at the heart of everything you put out there online? Success requires organisations to know themselves, and to not be afraid to showcase what they believe in. Every digital touch point should be filtered with your story, and be strong enough to stand up to the inevitable scrutiny that will come.