Can branding have a real-world social impact?
APORVA BAXI Co-founder and executive creative director, DixonBaxi www.dixonbaxi.com
“Absolutely. Take the #MeToo movement. Although not designed as a brand, the hashtag has come to embody a powerful idea that has become a worldwide phenomenon. With a clear purpose and message behind it, this otherwise commonplace phrase has become a recognisable symbol that carries a potent message driving social change, thus acting as a brand. The hashtag itself has superseded the need for a logo – arguably the hashtag is the logo – while the black attire worn at the Golden Globes acted as a visual signifier or uniform for those supporting the movement. The same can apply to any brand – but only if it authentically embodies an idea, and if social change is a part of that.”
VICTORIA PINNINGTON Senior designer, True North www.thisistruenorth.co.uk
“Brands have the power to reach more people than almost any other creative output and so, undoubtedly play a role in shaping our opinions, beliefs and how we see the world. The rise of the consumer conscience, and the fact that many of us want to feel good about what we buy, means the lines between company and consumer, brand values and beliefs are blurring. For that reason, there is an increasing expectation for brands to align their values with action. But in order for branding to have a real-world social impact, it needs to be telling a genuine story, one that aligns across every output, one that is done with purpose rather than for promotion.”
MARK LESTER Creative director, Mark Studio www.markstudio.co.uk
“I suspect the days of blindly exchanging money for sardines and Pot Noodles are numbered. Most of us would lean towards brands that support a real social cause that we believed in, be it human rights, animal welfare, negative portrayal of snakes in movies, or whatever. It’s easier for a new business to connect with a social cause and embed it in their company values with clarity and purpose right from the start. It’s much harder for more established brands, with previous baggage, to simply tag on a social purpose message and expect us to believe them. But it can be done, as M&S’ Plan A and Unilever’s Sustainable Living brands are proving.”