The Purpose of Purpose Films and Why Your Brand Needs One

Stacy Anderson / Brands / 1 year ago

In a time of content oversaturation and decreasing returns on traditional marketing efforts, brands have to radically rethink their approach to communications from one of outbound to inbound marketing. It’s the shift from push to pull, where consumers, now more than ever, can personally curate the content they are exposed to and ultimately, choose to eliminate, disregard or avoid any unwanted messaging. With consumers in the content drivers seat, we are seeing an increase in tools and options to opt out or even pay to avoid paid branded content.

Conventional advertising is no longer the prime means for consumer exposure. Today, consumers subscribing or paying to not be subject to irrelevant content through services such as YouTube Red or Hulu’s No Commercials Plan. The truth is in the data – 44% of direct mail is never opened, 86% of people skip television ads and 91% of email users have unsubscribed from a company email that they previously opted into.

With all this in mind, brands have the opportunity to leverage digital and social media in ways to create and share purpose films that go beyond the results of advertising toward consumer engagement and advocacy.

What is a Purpose Film?

An Opportunity to Make your Customers Part of Your Brand Story.

Rather than spending significant dollars producing a commercial or print campaign, why not crowdsource ideas and content from your customer community? For Airbnb’s first commercial, Hollywood & Vines, they tapped into their global community to submit Vine videos of different scenes of everyday life. The commercial launched at Sundance to much acclaim, and not only engaged Airbnb customers before and after the commercial launch, but maintained it through engagement during the production journey and ultimately a piece of meaningful content they could share.

A Rallying Cry for Your Tribe.

Seth Godin perhaps said it best in his book Tribes – “The secret of leadership is simple: Do what you believe in. Paint a picture of the future. Go there. People will follow.” For brands looking to carve out a leadership position in their category, they must back out of the future they want to own. In many ways, brands set an ambitious agenda or view of the world that its customers and consumers, or tribe, identify with and latch onto, which ultimately translates to loyalty and advocacy. However, without clearly and succinctly communicating this vision or mission to your tribe, your brand misses a huge opportunity to only further gain their investment, but the potential to reach and resonate with new members. For brands like TOMS and Whole Foods who have a strong tribe, they leveraged purpose films as a way to further establish their positioning and brand efficacy. Whole Foods introduced its Values Matter Film in 2014 as a 1-minute explanation of its manifesto.

A Snapshot of Your Purpose In-Action.

Beyond stating what your brand purpose is, films offer the opportunity to capture moments of your purpose ‘in-action’. Whether documenting a purpose-driven campaign like Patagonia’s Worn Wear Repair Truck or calling on your customer community to champion a global cause like climate change with Ben & Jerry’s Swirled Tesla Tour, these films add dimension, emotion and education to your brand’s purposeful storytelling efforts.

Why Do You Need One?

To Distill a New, Complex Idea or Technology into Simple, Sharable Ideas.

As we face ever-significant global crises, new perspectives, approaches and innovations are creating new solutions and new categories that are often so novel that they necessitate a deeper explanation to ensure adoption. From the introduction of zero waste products to toxic-less soap cleaners, brands must provide a clear but compelling explanation to prompt any behavioral change or product adoption. The introduction of Naked Juice’s reNEWabottle was accompanied by an illustrated film to explain its technology, benefits and the rationale for why this is important. By explaining a potentially complex idea in a simple, approachable way, its customers can easily grasp and reward Naked for its innovation and sustainability efforts.

To Achieve a Stronger ROI.

Inbound marketing costs 62% less per lead than traditional outbound marketing, and are proven to not just generate leads, but revenue. Add a clear, non-sales oriented call-to-action to your brand film, and you can pique the interest of your existing or new brand advocates. Complement your film with social media, dedicated webpages or microsites, and interactive content to increase the life span and reach. Carol’s Daughter partnered with I am That Girl for its 2015 #BornandMade campaign, leveraging the power of video to bring its mission and message to life while encouraging users to engage and submit.

To Establish Meaningful, Targeted Evergreen Content for Your Customers and Consumers to Find You.

Rather than you having to consistently push out promotional content to try and find the right customers, creating content about topics that inspire your customer community will help them find you. Dove’s infamous Campaign for Real Beauty has spanned over 10 years and garnered millions of views and shares by targeting widespread beliefs woman around the world have on beauty. Its latest installment, #ChooseBeautiful continues the evolution of its women empowerment narrative through social experimentation, putting real women and their experiences at the forefront. Though the video received some backlash, it nonetheless spoke to hard-hitting facts and ideas that women around the world find meaningful and worth watching and sharing.

Where to From Here?

Below are 5 questions you must first answer before delving into creating your own brand purpose film:

  1. What is the purpose of the film?
  2. Who are the intended audiences?
  3. What is your intended reaction / action from audiences?
  4. Where will it be used?
  5. Timing or budget considerations?

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