Are big brands really lit up from the inside out by good stuff? Or are they just polished up to dazzle and distract?
Are all of these purposeful brand communication campaigns and initiatives we see all they are cracked up to be?
Do they shine from the inside out, lit from within by serious commitment, substantial sustainable action, positive social credentials and planet-friendly achievements?
Or are they using a high-gloss veneer to dazzle and distract the observer from cracking the shiny shell and digging deeper?
And, at the most basic level, does anyone really care, beyond the small percentage of vigilant activists and expert commentators who hold them to account?
Some would venture that all this planet-loving, people-hugging, brand-purpose stuff is a load of guff. That at its worst, the shiny brand stories are used to paper over the flaws, gaps and the shortcomings of the brand. Or just some bandwagoning communications wheeze thought up to make them look ‘relevant’.
Others would say that though ‘brand may be bland, Susty is still crusty.’
Many senior brand people [still the keepers of the budgetary purse mostly] find a lot of sustainability and social impact people preachy and righteous.
This is not helped by the slightly tawdry and self-interested stampede towards activities like Veganuary and Greta-friendly narratives by brands who should know better.
The truly punchy would state that if a brand wants to be truly purposeful, support the community, act at the coal face of people’s lives, support their needs, and do good in the world, they should simply pay the taxes on the profit their brand generates in any given country, and support the local economy the same as everyone else. [We hear you Mark Ritson!]
Those taxes go towards supporting the local economies that educate their local employees and keep them healthy, sustaining the local infrastructure in which they operate, and ultimately propping up their enterprise. To pay the taxes that do all of that would be purposeful action indeed.
But, we are where we are. There is no short answer, whatever the anarcho-syndacalists might say to the contrary.
So, for planetSHINE, our primary focus is simple
Increasingly people are looking for people-powered, planet-friendly, purpose-driven products, services and experiences that enrich their lives without negatively impacting on the society in which we exist, the creatures we share the planet with, or the planet itself.
And brands are looking for film, content and communications ideas that speak to that desire and need without defaulting to negative hectoring or blame throwing.
That’s our sweet spot.
To deliver against those clients needs, we combine audacious, ambitious creative-thinking, with specialist sustainability expertise and an almost pathological love of film.
That specialist sustainability expertise and experience is how we ensure that the content and communications we create are more than just shinola, a glossy sheen and nothing else. The integrity of the sustainable truths that underwrite everything we do are what make the stories we tell shine from the inside out.
And as for audacious and ambitious creative-thinking and ideas, once the sole preserve of the Persuaders of Madison Avenue, are how we expand the attraction, relevance and engagement to appeal to a mass audience.
This is not discretionary. A paradigm shift in our consumption and lifestyle behaviours needs more than just the usual niche brand suspects and the warm adopters and early influencers.
The world of ever-reducing and ever more specialist echo chambers fuelled by forensic data science and profiling doesn’t work for us. We want the opposite. We want a bigger echo chamber with ever more people actively engaged in the conversation – not less.
We want to create inclusive expansive conversations that create an echo chamber that reaches far beyond the current ones. So we need cool stuff and compelling stuff. We need films that actually excite people – or blow them away. Films that make them feel, not just think.
All film is not made equal
Fact. Just because a social plan or digital ambition cites film as the most sharable asset in an omni-channel world doesn’t mean that, simply by nature of making it, a piece of film is all of those things we’re looking for.
A massive amount of film content out there is mindless churn – noise – vast swathes of film filling every channel and platform out there. That’s not the kind of film we’re talking about. And it’s not the kind of film we want to make. Full stop. So please don’t ask us to.
But if you do want a piece of film, we’ve a few simple guides to how we might get to that glorious thing – a really compelling, sharable piece of film. Starting with the way we speak about it from the get go.
The noisy ‘speak’ of Content, Digital & Social
Normal people – those who do not exist in the media, comms and digital worlds – don’t talk about sticky social, pixel strategies, digital uplift, social wildfiring and UX. So we try to avoid those types of phrases when we can. The language isn’t helpful.
Our simple descriptor for a piece of content or film that captures the imagination or attention of people is ‘things that make you go OOOhhhh’.
It’s our way of describing that moment when a piece of film pops up in someone’s screen and they go ‘ooohhh…that’s exciting/out there/smart/hot/brilliant/cool/helpful/mental…’ because when that happens, they naturally do all the things you hope they’ll do – starting with sharing it.
Simplistic perhaps. But we like simple as do what the research labs like to call the Early Majority out there.
Gut versus Chin
But if ‘things that make you go OOOhhh’ needs to be presented up the strategic and corporate food chain and a more serious model is required, we have one of those as well.
Sticking with the simplicity thread, we also try to avoid over-complex strategic set-ups, dense presentations and long, complicated monologues.
So if Sustainability Experts are focused on education & engagement, and Communications Experts are focused on attraction & seduction, we’re focused on Total Comms.
Total Comms means Communications ideas that find a simple creative or narrative bulls-eye that can tell both universal and highly particular stories – from the top of the brand to the bottom of the operation. Communications that can offer a 360-degree viewpoint and landscape in which to play.
Communications that can pull together the cornerstones of:
- Shared Value – those businesses that favour and pursue a stakeholder and not a shareholder model
- Sustainability – where sustainability is mapped and measured through the four streams – of Social, Cultural, Economic, and Environmental intention, impact and effect
- Social – the aspect of what you do that creates social currency in the world and in everyday lives
Total Comms sets out to structure thinking and doing in such a way as to elevate the shine version of Comms – the kind that is lit up from the inside out with rich, meaningful and tangible sustainability beliefs, commitments, proofs and news – and eliminate the shinola kind.
So in the end, whether you need to have a grown-up, structured and engineered strategy built upon a mixture of creativity, gut and data science – or whether you just like the idea of creating ‘things that make people go Oohhhh!’ we’d love to talk to you.
Stacks, SWAG money, filthy lucre & the power of purpose for all kinds of good
Money is a necessary evil. It is what sustains every company, business, organisation and brand’s ability to do good things in the world. Before they can do anything else, they need to be financially sustainable. Whether it’s through profitability, financing, investment or even crowdfunding, money and the pursuit of it has to be embraced as part of the system that enables good in the world.
Importantly, over recent years, different organisations and individuals have committed themselves to dispelling the Friedman myth that businesses who waste company money on good deeds and philanthropic initiatives, even when done in an effort to sustain the wellbeing and stability of one’s own supply and value chains, are undertaking a criminal act against the company and its shareholders.
Firms of Endearment, B Corps and and the likes of PSFKs purposeful business tracker increasingly support the belief that a brand or businesses that invests time, resource and influence in those areas directly linked to and supportive of their own ecosystems and operational and socio-cultural wellbeing are profiting commercially, culturally and socially.
Firms of Endearment goes straight for the wallet and repeatedly and consistently shows that purposeful brands reap the rewards of their more purposeful initiatives, activations and systemic improvements.
And PSFK is emphatic about the cause and effect of purpose on the commercial and cultural wellbeing and success of brands both global and local that they track and measure.
So, if you are purposeful, and on a journey to better, we’d love to work with you, helping you shape a brilliant story – a story that inspires films, content and communications that shine from the inside out.
Start the conversation through firstname.lastname@example.org