Social purpose: Oxygen for your brand health vitals

Carolyn Butler-Madden

Carolyn is founder and CEO of Sunday Lunch, a marketing consultancy that specialises in cause and purpose-led marketing. By aligning a brand with a cause in a way that unlocks both brand and social value, businesses can do well by doing good. She is author of Amazon best-selling book Path To Purpose, Australia’s first book on cause marketing. She’s also a contributing author to the latest Better Business, Better Life, Better World book, due for release July 2018. Carolyn brings 30 years’ international experience creating successful and internationally awarded marketing campaigns for some of the world’s best brands. Over 18 years she owned and ran two agencies in Sydney, until deciding to move out of the agency world and into consulting to pursue her passion for social impact-led marketing.


If trust is the new currency, then we’re in deep trouble.

According to Edelman’s 2018 Trust Barometer, Australia is one of the world’s most ‘distrusting’ countries. Trust in all major institutions has declined – government, business, media and NGOs – business, from a score of 52 in 2016 to 45 in 2018. 

So just how important is trust for marketers, amongst their other priorities?

Trust is everything.

Without it, your brand is on a hamster wheel; racing to keep up with the newest innovation; racing to manage unhappy customers on social media. Racing, but going nowhere.

Trust is credit in the metaphorical bank.

Without it, people are quick to put the boot in. With Trust comes respect and patience, so when mistakes happen, your brand has a fighting chance of repairing the damage.

Trust is the foundation of any strong relationship. Isn’t that what all brands are ultimately trying to build? Arguably, Trust is the most vital brand health measure.  Yet it’s in shockingly short supply.

Havas Group’s 2018 Meaningful Brands Survey examined the content brands produced and their impact on consumer trust. Australia – at 25 per cent - had the lowest belief in brands worldwide. The global average was 57 per cent.

Clearly with scores this low there are fundamental issues that need to be addressed. 

Australians are a cynical bunch, perceiving business as greedy and dishonest. Whatever the reality, perception is reality to people looking in. They hear stories and are victims themselves of businesses putting profit before people, the environment and the communities in which they operate. 

Recently, Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock (one of the world’s most influential investors) wrote a letter to CEOs of the world’s biggest companies, highlighting that society is demanding that companies serve a social purpose and that they must meet this demand or risk losing BlackRock’s support. 

One way brands can serve a social purpose is through cause marketing. By strategically aligning their brand with a cause, businesses can unlock brand and social value. It’s not a new approach, but the sophistication with which this strategy is now being deployed by some brands is delivering strong results.

Consider Dulux’s Surf Club Project, which provides free paint to every Surf Lifesaving Club in Australia. Since 2011, Dulux has helped protect surf clubs from the harshest weather elements on Australia’s coastline.

Dulux has scored the triple win through this program: sales increase, brand health and social contribution. Every time the TVC airs, sales increase. Brand health metrics show a significant increase since the program began. Research shows that people place huge value on the brand’s benefit of ‘protection from the Australian sun’. Since 2013, Dulux has been consistently voted the number one paint brand and has regularly featured in the top 10 brands overall of Reader’s Digest Trusted Brands survey.  

If Trust is indeed the new currency, Dulux are on the money. They are just one example of brands using cause marketing to earn trust and do well by doing good.

Tags: trust, brand strategy, consumer engagement

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