The event «Branding with meaning» was hosted by the international brand think tank, the Medinge Group and Kristiania University College.
The issue this seminar raised – and tried to tackle – is how to build a meaningful and authentic brand. The first presentation on Purpose, Truth and Authenticity argued that a clear Purpose is vital in driving a brand forward and giving it cohesion, but that brands too easily equate purpose with communications. Using Patagonia as an example, it is clear that a purpose needs to guide strategy and actions. It needs to be embedded into the difficult decisions that organizations have to make and to provide a framework against which to judge risk. When a purpose is superficial (and inauthentic) a brand can easily come across as manipulative.
Peter Brown’s presentation on Political Conscience picked up the point about brands making difficult choices.
He showed how German supermarket chain Edeka had made a political point about the dangers of anti-immigration rhetoric by emptying their shelves of imported goods – a clear and courageous statement – and in contrast how sports brand Under Armour’s CEO had wavered in his viewpoints and tone and style from personal expression to corporate speak; from Trump endorsement to rejection of a political stance.
Sandra Horlings and Astrid Benneker then provided a storybook reading on how Dutch chocolate brand, Tony Chocolonely, took on the established chocolate brands using the power of narrative.
Started by journalists, the point behind Chocolonely was to highlight the human slavery involved in making chocolate. A story turned into a brand and then into a commercial success.
With the building blocks in place: the importance of a clear purpose, a commitment to taking a stance and a belief in the power of narrative, the attendees were given a task – to define the essence of La Benevolencija.
This well-established Dutch based NGO works with Hate Speech in Rwanda, DRC and Burundi by creating radio soap operas that highlight the challenges that different communities face and by helping them to see others’ point of view. La Benevolencija is now also beginning to develop its work in Europe and to broaden its base to include game based media.
The participants then worked in ten groups for an hour trying to condense the complexity of La Benevolencija into a statement of purpose that could help guide the development of the brand. The feedback provided new insights, ways of expressing the essence of the brand and suggestions on the key target audiences.
The material collected from the groups will be synthesised and used to form the basis of the next phase of building a long term and effective brand strategy for La Benevolencija.
Branding with meaning
- 80 attendees – including people from India, Russia, Germany, UK, Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark
- Mixed audience of staff from Kristiania University College, the Medinge Group, Dutch Embassy, NRK, TNS Gallup, Nobel Peace Center, Brand consultants and NGOs, current and former students
- 4 international speakers from the Medinge Group and briefing from George Weiss, founder of NGO, La Benevolencija
- The story of Tony’s Chocolonely; Competing with Nestlè by taking a stand
- 10 solutions as a result of the workshop to La Benevolencija´s problem: Define the essence of the brand and share it in a short and compelling brand story.
All photos taken by Mats Bakken @matsbakkenphotography