16. Brand Bravery

For my Creative Strat Advertising class I was given the prompt to write a smart, exciting, interesting article/essay on my personal opinions of brand bravery.  Although vague, I came up with a set of guidelines that I personally believe showcase bravery.

Here is a condensed/shortened version of my paper. To view the full essay, click here.

Branding a Hero

To earn the word “bravery” brands should behave with integrity, consumer/community-driven ideas, social good, respect, and authenticity. I strongly believe there is no such thing as a “bad” or “good” brand, but brands that rightfully choose to act upon these behavior traits. These brands, in turn have a positive impact on our communities. Not for popularity but the integrity the brand. “Over time, products and services will come and go, but the brand that provides them will remain constant. And brands will be defined by the sum total of those experiences, rather than the products or services themselves” (Bedbury 16)[ii] These companies face challenges and make conscious choices everyday in what direction their brand is headed. Those that exhibit bravery normally go outside the norm and do something innovative, exciting, and smart. As well as and what they personally believe is right, not what is right in the eyes of the consumer culture.

First lets start with integrity, the “consistency of actions, values, methods, measures, principals, expectations, and outcomes…also honesty and truthfulness”. (Webster)[iii] Just as people can have integrity, so can brands. I believe the main importance of this definition is consistency. If a brand chooses to be inconsistent, how can we as consumers trust that brand? We as consumers must also consider the brand’s values.  Part of this is deciding if “…a company should and, more important, could live up to being a good citizen.”(Owsley)[iv] I would argue that a large majority of brands today do not have integrity because they are purely profit driven. However one brand exceptionally exhibits integrity, Chipotle Mexican Grill. Chipotle is one of the many fast food chains in America. Like most fast food companies they serve a variety of meat. What Chipotle does differently though, and bravely, is that they made the radical choice to buy meat from sustainable farms.

These farms have “respect for the animals, environment, and farmers” and do not inject their animals with harmful chemicals. CEO Steve Ells says, “When I started Chipotle in 1993, I wanted to demonstrate that just because food is served fast, doesn’t mean it needs to be typical fast food, which relies on low-cost, low-quality ingredients. “Food with integrity” is about sustainable food, responsible treatment of the land and animals[vi] By investing in these farms and paying a higher price tag for meat and other local goods, Chipotle is making a difference in communities across America. Chipotle had an option to buy cheaper meat sources, yet instead the brand is changing the norm of factory farms altogether. Brand integrity, and doing what is right for your community is important. The idea of sticking to your values and beliefs and showcasing that through how your brand is strategized, is extremely brave.

Brands do not have to be hero or save the world to demonstrate bravery. However, brands do need to be a ‘good citizen’ and should behave with integrity, consumer/community-driven ideas, social good, respect, and authenticity. Although brands may have radical and new advertisements, it doesn’t mean the brand is brave, we as consumers must determine these differences and fully support the brands we believe in.

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