In a previous blog, we spoke about how organizations can create brand authenticity by aligning with and adopting a cause. In this blog, we will dive into how an organization can align with and adopt a cause.
Before we do that, it is worth reinforcing how important authenticity is to any successful inbound marketing strategy.
Modern consumers are drawn in by genuine interactions and want their purchases to stand for more than their value or service. Authenticity resonates with customers enabling brands to form deeper connections with customers, develop trust, and differentiate themselves.
With 91% of consumers being more willing to buy from an authentic brand than from a dishonest brand, the competitive advantage of authenticity is significant.
Without authenticity drawing people to your site and conveying value and expertise is near impossible.
HOW TO ADOPT A CAUSE
It’s important to note that picking a cause to bandwagon onto its success, run special promos, or shamelessly self-promote can harm more than help. Modern customers are savvy and will easily spot “fake” authenticity and are often repelled.
The cause you choose needs to reflect your organization’s beliefs and identity to tap into authentic branding.
SequoiaCX started with the purpose of promoting and championing a cause–the preservation of wild spaces–and we reflect this in everything we do.
To help explain how you can adopt a cause, we will outline the steps we took and provide some personal examples.
Before we go any further, we have to express how much a cause can benefit your brand. Our cause has done so much for us that we hope to inspire other brands to pick up the proverbial torch.
Adopting a brand has…
- Provided us direction when facing uncertainty
- Given us the drive to push through hard times
- Inspired our team and partners to achieve more
- Given a wide range of topics to cover that we are passionate about
- Given our brand image character and differentiation
- Connected us with inspiring and motivated people
- Equipped us with a sense of goodwill and pride in our brand
If you think adopting a cause would benefit your brand, read on.
Purpose-led brands have the potential to create stronger and more resilient customer relationships. That translates into more sales and greater customer lifetime value. Purpose also bolsters confidence in a brand. That provides an extra layer of protection from the almost inevitable “trust incident”—and ultimately protects the bottom line. –Accenture – 2018
FIND A CAUSE YOU BELIEVE IN
The first step and most important part of adopting a cause is finding one you truly believe in.
It’s imperative that you share, advocate for, and believe in the cause you associate with. If you pick a cause as a gimmick—or as a means of selling more stuff—your audience will reject it as disingenuous.
Don’t be that brand.
Once you’ve found a cause, you’ll need to align it with your brand and image. To truly align your brand with a cause, you will need to promote and share it with your audience. You must pick a purpose you are passionate about and comfortable championing. Half measures won’t work.
If you need inspiration for what cause is right for you, look inward.
Think about what you enjoy and want to share. Perhaps something you want to change in the world. Or maybe there is something that has impacted your life, and that story would benefit others. Think about what affects your community and makes it great or is holding it back.
Not all causes have to be world-changing, but the one you pick does have to be important to you.
For us, the outdoors has always been an inspiring place that centered us in difficult times, created fond memories in childhood, and provided a sense of adventure. In many ways, we still feel that many people have become disconnected from the wonder of the outdoors—so we’re seeking to bring that sense of awe and wonder back to our customers.
Find your passion and embrace it.
Once you have a cause, you need to find partners. No one does anything alone.
One of the most significant benefits of adopting a cause is connecting with people who share your passion. These people will be your future brand promoters, customers, and allies in sharing your message and driving change.
Look for nonprofits and organizations that live and breathe your cause. Chances are, there are at least a few organizations that do. You don’t have to choose only one (we didn’t), but you will need to do some homework.
To make sure you are picking the right organizations—do your research.
A simple internet search is enough to get started.
Start by performing some keyword searches and look for local, national, and global organizations. Trust your instincts during this part and make a list of the organizations whose style, messaging, methods, and results resonate with you.
Not all charities are effective, so find one that is going to move the needle.
Pick partner organizations with integrity.
There are several reputable organizations whose entire purpose is to track how charities spend their money and operate. These sites can help you find an effective and reputable partner.
We use www.charitynavigator.com. They do an excellent job of diving into charities and distilling insights. If you can’t find your charity on any auditing site, then consider your approach carefully. Being associated with a questionable charity is a great way to diminish your brand.
FORM A RELATIONSHIP, NOT LINKS
You must interview your potential nonprofit partners. Reach out via email, schedule phone calls, and arrange in-person meetings if possible.
You need to find an organization with which you can form a working relationship. Spend some time with them and ask questions. If you can’t get a hold of anyone or they are dismissive, it’s a sign this is a bad fit.
In a mutually beneficial relationship, both partners help each other. You’re going to represent and help grow the charity. In turn, they will speak of you, expand your network, and even provide marketing and backlinking opportunities.
Think of how you can be of service to each other and form lasting partnerships to champion a shared cause. Come to the table with ideas and support.
The extent of your interactions shouldn’t be merely transactional. Focus on helping promote the cause, and the other benefits will follow in a genuine partnership.
We manage this by providing links for our charities, donating our services and time, running promotions and donation drives, and working with local businesses to raise awareness. It’s fulfilling work, and our cause partners appreciate it. In turn, they provide us with listings, leads, and legitimacy through links and badges.
If you want to speak passionately about your cause and radiate authenticity—then get involved. When you donate your time and become emotionally invested in a cause, it’s reflected in your actions and words.
By doing this, you become more comfortable aligning your brand more closely with the cause, which will be felt by those who interact with your organization.
Donate your time, run campaigns, use your platform to share with your audience. Let people know you care, and this will draw in genuine interest in what you do and who you are.
Best of all, it provides a purpose and an emotional reward. The shared struggle and victories will empower your brand and people to achieve more.
This pride of ownership doesn’t come from blog posts and writing checks alone. It comes from connecting with people. So get involved.
INVEST IN OUTCOMES, NOT PUBLICITY
When you invest in a cause, it becomes more than an emotional hook or advertising ploy.
Don’t treat the cause with a marketing 101 approach. Don’t work to fit in a call to action and brand stamps on every interaction.
This behavior devalues your efforts and turns the partnership into a stunt or a promotion. Proudly share your brand’s participation but make sure you’re giving justice to the cause.
Promote changes, bring awareness, dispel myths, and provide motivation without a corporate plug.
We’re not saying that you shouldn’t proudly broadcast your participation or share in the success of your shared efforts. Balance and being honest about your contributions are essential.
We manage this by being upfront about our causes and proudly displaying them on our website. We give front-page real estate to our championed causes, and we talk openly about our motivations and efforts. Our imagery, approach, and branding are all influenced by our purpose.
We run a mix of branded and anonymous campaigns, comment on and promote our charity’s social media, donate our personal and professional time, and post unbranded awareness pieces that go out from our company accounts.
In this way, SequoiaCX aligns itself proudly with a cause while also taking a back seat to not appear as shameless self-promoters.
If you want to up your brand authenticity, try adopting a cause. Make your business a powerful vehicle for social change that provides a host of brand awareness, networking, and motivational benefits.
If you do decide a cause is a good fit for your organization remember:
- Find a cause you believe in
- Choose your partners wisely
- Seek long-term relationships
- Get Involved
- Be humble.
A cause is a great way to form deeper connections with your community, customers, and teams. If you would like to discuss how your brand can align with a cause and manage an authentic and genuine relationship, SequoiaCX can help. Our purpose is to champion our world’s wild spaces, and through these efforts, we’ve learned many lessons and found a host of unexpected benefits. Reach out and schedule a consultation. We are happy to share our insights