Doing the right thing – Why brand values matter – words Alexa Wang
In this world of hyper communication, we all want and expect more from brands. Brands can no longer act aloof. If consumers so chose they will vote with their feet and sales can plummet.
That means a brand’s values are under scrutiny like never before. Yes, in the past much of this was window dressing and mere PR from the brands but this is no longer the case.
As Burberry have shown this week this is serious stuff. If the brand doesn’t wake up and get it they could end up being relegated to history. To be cool these days brands have to have a philosophy; a set of values that their audience can feel allied to.
Whether it’s the use of fur, packaging, waste, campaign models or imagery surrounding the brand, every aspect has to make come together as a whole and make sense in some way to its audience. Brands that don’t understand this are left flailing reacting to each dilemma. Their PR people are hauled in front of the camera and because they have no coherent policy they mutter and mumble and make their brand look even worse.
Sports Direct came across like headless chickens when undercover reports of working conditions in the warehouse hit the headlines. Rather than facing up the criticism and changing their practices they tried to bluster and ended up dragging it out over months and their brand suffered as a consequence.
Burberry have chosen to finally get a grip of the criticism, choosing to refocus the brand around the idea of eliminating waste and social awareness. So no longer will they burn unsold items; and they have stopped using fur. All of it. They are working with company Elvis & Kresse to transform 120 tons of leather off-cuts into new product lines over the next five years. It just goes to show. As society changes and consumers expect more from their brands, then brands have to adapt or die.
Some brands are ahead of the game and have been developing coherent sustainability ethos for many years. Esprit have long championed a sustainable philosophy which is fundamental to the brand and its values. Whether it’s the materials used in this season’s womenswear lines or the energy used in production, the brand have embraced the concept and made it part of the brand’s identity. Esprit even have ‘Yes’ centres that provide education to young people thus giving back to their supplier countries. They also produce a sustainability report each year so their consumers can see the progress they are making. The result is that alongside looking and feeling great in their new pair of jeans or top, an Esprit customer can also get some feel-good from the fact that the brand they have chosen is doing the right thing.
As consumers demand more and communicate with one another, brands have to mean more than just a desirable fashion item. Brand values really matter. Consumers will buy into brands who reflect their beliefs and attitude to the world. Brands that ‘get it’ and still deliver a desirable product are on the right side of history. Brands that just don’t understand this new world will be consigned to it.
Doing the right thing – Why brand values matters – words Alexa Wang