Ahead of next month’s webinar Build Digital Brands with Purpose’ we have been catching up with some of our event speakers. Introducing, Fleurie Forbes-Martin, Business Growth Director at design agency, Studio Republic. Here, she explains why the tipping point for ethical marketing is now and why marketers must invest in the growing ethical marketing trend now. Then outlines how you can consider authenticity and crafting a unique proposition. 

Tell us a bit about yourself and your role at Studio Republic. 

Hello readers, my name is Fleurie and I’m the Business Growth Director at Studio Republic so I’m responsible for early strategic idea development, putting together bespoke proposals to solve a myriad of creative and digital challenges for our clients.

We’re a B Corp agency on a mission to empower causes with the means to impact lives. My piece of the puzzle within this bigger goal is giving prospective clients (in the main charities but occasionally health & wellbeing or sustainability organisations) the confidence they need to start a new working partnership with us. I fulfill this through a combination of genuine relationship building, getting under the skin of the organisation and its problems as deeply and rapidly as I can, and then providing creative and considered ideas to help them.

Our service offering spans branding and design, bespoke website and web app development, and campaign creation so no two briefs or proposals are the same. I joined SR two-and-a-bit years ago because I went through a personal journey of transformation when I became vegan and gradually more ‘woke’ about other injustices in life. I wanted to have a meaningful impact every single day and SR seemed to be the place that I could do just that!

"Now more than ever, a big enough population of brand leaders, marketers and the public have cottoned-on to the necessity to shift gears to protect our future"

Why is now the time to be talking about ethical marketing? 

Personally, I think it’s about the tipping point. Now more than ever, a big enough population of brand leaders, marketers, and the public have cottoned-on to the necessity to shift gears to protect our future and everyone (and everything) that hopes to enjoy it. It’s never been more cool to be kind and truly aspirational brands are moving further and further into the purposeful space – if they’ve not been founded on genuinely ‘for-good’ values anyway.

Ultimately marketing exists to facilitate a buy-sell relationship and with consumer perceptions shifting rapidly, brand leaders and marketers have no choice but to evolve and move with the times. But this is no normal marketing trend. This is a trend to save ourselves and the feel-good factor of making decisions for ourselves too. It is the marketing trend that will not go away, it can only grow. So, now’s the time to get on board and reap the benefits before you’re left behind.

"Marketing ethics must be agreed and upheld by everyone from the top down. There are no shortcuts or cover ups that won't eventually come to light."

What blockers are there to building purpose driven brands?

Number one: authenticity, commitment, and consistency.

Above all else, this is where ethical marketing lives or dies. If you put your stall out claiming to be something you are not, you will inevitably fail. Marketing ethics must be agreed upon and upheld by everyone from the top down. There are no shortcuts or cover-ups that won’t eventually come to light.

If you claim to be purpose-driven then that is what you must be, plain and simple. It seems obvious but there are swathes of people that still don’t seem to understand this. Not only must you commit wholly to this, but you must also do this forevermore. There’s no ‘off day’ or ‘odd decision’ that takes you away from your purpose. It should be the defining factor, the fifth person in the room when you’re making business and marketing decisions. Rather than a hassle or an appendage, it should be enjoyed as a joyful filter through which everything is communicated.

Number two: a unique offering and/or POV.

I suspect that brands not built upon purposeful values that are entering the purpose space later down the line may see purpose as a big shiny opportunity. And although that’s true, with so many innovative brands being born out of the need for more ethics in general, it may be tricky to define what specifically your purpose seeks to serve.

The more generically ‘good’ you position yourself as the less you will tap into consumers’ deepening understanding of life’s big challenges. We tend to work audience-first at SR in all things, speaking to those who we seek to engage to understand them uniquely and building out our work from there. I think the same goes for purpose brand building. Start with whose lives you’re hoping to positively impact? And in what specific way? Tackling climate change is all well and good but those in the know understand that it’s an incredibly complex and multifaceted challenge, so what specific element are you hoping to change and how?

This is where process and data can be really helpful – demonstrating first-hand that you have nothing to hide. Take Oatly’s on-pack carbon calculation and supporting marketing campaign encouraging other food and drinks brands to ‘show us your numbers’. If you’re new to the game, you need to research your competitive landscape to understand what problems are being solved and through which unique point of view, then go back to your audience to identify the space that you can occupy and eventually own.

You can hear Fleurie speak more about how brands can be more purpose-led in their marketing at our virtual event on 3rd November, find out more and sign-up here.