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Brand’s position on a social issue can drive purchase intent as much as product features

In the Harvard Business Review, Scott Goodson, founder of the creative advertising agency StrawberryFrog, argued fervently for brand-fueled marketing movements. He claims that companies and brands adopting traditional branding and positioning will pale against brands that take a stand for social issues and fuel movements with their marketing. At StrawberryFrog, we’ve previously said past consumers look to brands as trust marks. No more — now people trust themselves and their friends, leaving brands to try and find a meaningful role in people’s lives.

Purpose-driven branding will help your company, brand or organization grow. Brands that go one step further  engineer a brand-fueled marketing movement, activating a purpose  will succeed in our fragmenting media environment.

Last week, the Wall Street Journal wrote a story to further confirm this truth. “Taking a stand on a political or social issue could do a brand more good than harm at the checkout counter…people around the world are increasingly taking into account what brands stand for when they buy a product.”

Companies are increasingly voicing opinions or tying their marketing to hot button issues. Earlier this year, Dick’s Sporting Goods Inc.increased its gun-buying age to 21 — amid a national debate over school shootings and gun control– while luxury car brand Audi promoted gender pay equality in its Super Bowl commercial last year.

The most recent example: Nike’s latest ad effort featuring Colin Kaepernick, the former National Football League quarterback who sparked a protest movement by kneeling on the field during the national anthem to call attention to racial injustice.

The rise of social media has given consumers a megaphone to publicly demand that corporations weigh in on political or social issues that arise.

It’s a big change. Companies have long gone out of their way to be non-political, as to not alienate any portion of their customer base. Many craft neutral statements to avoid any controversy.

Creative ad agency executives say the change in approach is driven by younger generations who expect brands to take a stand on important issues and make a difference.

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