There are enough studies now to show that for consumers to trust brands, there needs to be a deep sense of purpose proven through tangible actions.
As part of the Campaign Leading Change 2020 programme, we speak with three regional leaders about the evolution of purpose though Covid, heightened awareness around D&I issues, and the slippery slope of 'purpose-washing'. On the panel are Michelle Hutton, brand chair, APAC at Edelman; Deepak Subramanian, VP Homecare SEAA and global head of Fabric Sensations Category at Unilever; and Alexander de Leon, regional lead APAC at Instagram.
Hutton says that companies now need to really think about their contributions in aiding and solving societal issues. "There has never been a more important time for businesses and brands to stand up and not just find their voice, but to really understand what their role is," she says. "Covid has really shone a light on issues that have probably been around for many years but are now real problems that need to be solved."
Subramanian adds that there's a risk that Covid has brought up the risk of brands creating a 'wallpaper effect' where brands end up emanating similar messages. He presents examples from Unilever that have managed to stride the balance between meaningful messaging and authenticity.
De Leon, meanwhile, who has plenty of insight on the product end of Instagram, has an incisive view of the work brands are doing as well as where they're falling short.
"We're seeing a lot of great creative work and campaigns that are coming out from this renewed energy around purpose. But I think at the same time, the conversations I'm having with agencies and CMOs is that, when you do that, you have to prepared to back that up with action," he says.
Consumers now are more empowered than ever to call out a brand's shortcoming, especially with increased transparency and social media. To this point, Hutton says that it's absolutely vital for brands to get their house in order before they cast their nets towards wider social issues.
For more, watch the video above. To read more about how brands can act and advocate to change, click to download Edelman's Brand Trust in APAC in 2020: Special Report.
A version of this story first appeared on Campaign Asia-Pacific.
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