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Malena's Brands with Purpose vs Purposeless Brands

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How Big companies can empower small start ups

June 12th, 2017 · Comments Off on How Big companies can empower small start ups

Large, established companies may have their challenges, but they also have access to capital, industry experience and strong professional networks — three key ingredients emerging businesses need.

I believe companies can share these valuable assets with startups to benefit both, bringing vital finance and know-how to new businesses, and helping established ones to innovate and rejuvenate. Big businesses with a clear purpose can bring value, serving as a facilitator of growth — both internal and external.

How can they do this?

FINANCIAL SUPPORT — Obvious, but important. Many large corporations act as venture capital funds, investing in startups as a way of boosting innovation when internal innovation grows stagnant. Others do this to adapt both their ways of working and their brand image, such as John Lewis. The UK retailer launched JLab in 2014, partly as a result of wanting to be seen as a leader in the retail technology space. JLab offers 12 weeks of mentoring and the chance of a store contract, as well as a £100,000 investment in exchange for equity in the startup — a much-needed capital boost to growing companies.
NETWORKING – Sometimes it really is about who you know. Companies can open up their established little black books to help entrepreneurs connect with investors or other startups. Take for example Google for Entrepreneurs, Google’s initiative that harks back to its own humble startup beginnings. Google for Entrepreneurs links entrepreneurs to existing startup communities, and builds “Campuses” where they can connect, share ideas and collaborate. Under a credible umbrella, start-ups are also better able to connect to funds and resources.
MENTORING — One huge advantage of being an established company is having in-house expertise, which can be shared with up-and-coming businesses. Dell’s Founders 50 provides exactly that for high-growth startups. The program offers mentorship and networking opportunities to drive growth. Dell provides an “internal champion” as a mentor for its Founders 50 members, giving advice to businesses at crucial stages in their development. The initiative builds on Dell’s history of supporting entrepreneurs both within and outside the company, reflecting its self-stated status as the “biggest startup in the world.”
CREDIBILITY — Half the battle of transforming a business venture into reality is persuading the market that you’re a viable, plausible entity. Being vetted or taken under the wing of a trusted brand can give startups an enormous credibility boost. Unilever’s Sustainable Living Young Entrepreneur Awards, for example, gives financial support and mentoring to winners, with the bonus of accredited validation. The award also gives Unilever credibility, presenting the company as supportive of the innovators and initiatives that are aligned to their own sustainability commitments.
TECHNOLOGY/ PLATFORM – Facebook, no stranger to startup culture, has launched FbStart, a platform that provides mobile app startups with free tools and services that help them to excel. The mentoring and connections allow new apps to exclusively build on the platform while also engaging with established developers.
The flow of benefits is not just a one-way street — entrepreneurs can provide a substantial amount to the large corporations that support them, enabling transformation and encouraging experimentation.

Take for example The Unilever Foundry, launched in 2014, which mentors and invests in digital media startups, helping them to scale up and giving them access to the myriad Unilever brands. Unilever gains an enormous amount from The Foundry in terms of access to innovative marketing technology. The entrepreneurs involved share their knowledge and offer more efficient, effective and sustainable ways of reaching out to consumers – something Unilever specifically seeks out. Let’s not forget that Unilever ensures that these startups share their purpose, passion and vision for social impact, meaning that their collaboration really does have the potential to generate change.

At Shell, I’ve seen the wonderful results of big business, small startup collaborations first hand through our #makethefuture program; but it’s certainly not our only platform to empower others. We offer a breadth of solutions to support startups at all stages of their development, from LiveWIRE, which gives early stage online business advice and funding to young entrepreneurs, to Shell Technology Ventures, which provides funding, expertise and access to our wide energy network for the participating pioneering energy companies.

And one of my personal favorites — our Shell Springboard program gives no-strings-attached funding to emerging businesses that demonstrate commercially viable, low-carbon solutions with a social impact. Deciwatt, the 2015 Shell Springboard National Winner, has already made a huge impact in communities living without electricity through GravityLight, a truly novel concept that generates electricity, providing a safe alternative to kerosene lamps. To celebrate, we recently commenced a 50-night tour of 50 different Kenyan towns, showcasing the technology and installing it in homes across the country.

It’s gratifying to not only see, but enable, such ground-breaking technology in action —but it’s not always easy.

It can be challenging for big companies tied to shareholders and stakeholders to foster entrepreneurship with startup support. But, whether you’re investing your brand’s time, money or credibility, the investment towards innovation is worth it.

Tags: General

Can brands be both viral- and purpose druven in marketing?

June 12th, 2017 · Comments Off on Can brands be both viral- and purpose druven in marketing?

Marketers chase the formula for viral marketing campaigns with the verve of alchemists working to turn base metals into gold. Whilst there have been wildly successful campaigns devoid of meaning, in my view, the most impactful are those fundamentally driven by purpose.

At Shell, our #makethefuture campaign supports energy innovators to find the answer to the energy challenges of the future. We recently collaborated with artists, clean energy entrepreneurs and the local community in Rio de Janeiro to launch Shell’s #makethefuture music video, “Best Day Of My Life”. It leveraged international artists to amplify the message and make the video engaging, yet the key was the fact that it’s underpinned by real-life projects around the world.

Since its launch in late September, the video has been viewed more than 201 million times. It’s secured a steady spot on several “most shared video” lists and is the third most-shared campaign of the year.

Of course, viral campaigns with no core purpose can still be successful in terms of metrics, but I question whether all those shares and “likes” equal true impact. Enduring or not, an effective campaign is one that’s shared globally, becoming part of the curious, unpredictable world of Internet culture.

The million-dollar questions remain: What drives people to share? What creates pure, pass-along potential with purpose?

While you can never predict or guarantee virality, there are a few ways brands can encourage it through purpose-driven campaigns:

Communicate your core value, from the inside out

Your editors and producers are as important as the brains behind the brand. Across social media, companies are lucky to hold an audience’s attention for just 16 seconds, so content must immediately communicate a concise, compelling message.

Evian’s “Live Young” campaign is a great example of this — dancing and roller-skating babies in the “Baby and Me” and “The Roller Babies” videos were simultaneously memorable, entertaining and surreal. Importantly, they also reflected the brand’s vision of instilling youthfulness in the hearts and minds of those who drink it.

Own it

It goes without saying that a specific marketing campaign should be integral to the brand and the brand integral to the campaign. Whilst Red Bull does not consider it an advertising campaign, its “Stratos” stunt, which sent Felix Baumbarther into outerspace, was astronomically successful (literally) — more than 9.5 million viewers tuned in to the live-streamed event. Red Bull’s core value is adrenaline and adventure, so they created a campaign that was a perfect fit.

Authentically connect with your audience

Brands depend on audiences for success: They’ll ultimately make your campaign viral or not, so you must connect with them on an poignant level. The Always #LikeAGirl campaign film, demonstrating the feminine hygiene brand’s commitment to empowering girls through puberty, was viewed more than 85 million times. The #LikeAGirl film aimed to transform the phrase ‘like a girl’ from an insult to an empowering expression. The film was highly shareable as it resounded emotionally with women of all ages — transcending country, culture and creed.

Another enormously popular campaign is Royal Philips’ “Philips Everyday Hero”video. The film reflected Philips’ intention to put human beings at the heart of its healthcare strategy, and was viewed over 32 million times. The video — inspired by the true story of window cleaners dressing as super heroes to amuse children in hospital — was hugely successful as it highlighted the importance of human connection and empathy to bring joy to the lives of others.

Then connect your audience with each other

Facilitate bringing people together, allowing or even encouraging consumers to communicate and reach out to each other, creating or reinforcing a feeling of community. Take the 2014 ALS Ice Bucket Challenge for example, which raised more than $115 million during an 8-week period. The Ice Bucket Challenge created a sense of community as each participant shared their own video, and in turn nominated friends to continue the challenge, creating shared experiences and reinforcing connections.

Don’t just “touch and go”

Perhaps most important, brands can’t expect to make one video and disappear. While I thoroughly enjoyed them, I wonder where the follow up was after some of the most viral campaigns, such as the Australian public service announcement campaign and Cannes winner “Dumb Ways to Die,” or Volvo’s “The Epic Split” featuring Jean-Claude Van Damme. Brands benefit when they keep audiences anticipating what’s next — it’s the beauty of campaigns such as the John Lewis annual Christmas ad, and the strategy behind our own #makethefuture campaign.

Help people feel good

Don’t underestimate human nature’s vanity, especially in today’s selfie-obsessed society. People like to feel and look good both off and online, so your audience may be more likely to share if the message makes them feel good too. This connects back to purpose — if a campaign is underscored with meaning, people want to be connected to it and consequently more likely to share.

Walmart’s “Fight Hunger Spark Change” video gained over 12 million views in its first week, reflecting Walmart’s commitment to hunger relief. At the same time, it also gave the sharer a badge of support for the fight against hunger, and the satisfaction that their single demonstration of online support would be translated by Walmart into a pledge to help Feeding America provide ten meals.

Engage on multiple levels

With reducing attention spans, today’s communication needs to grab attention and then maintain engagement. Music plays a strong role in many of the best examples, as does universal story telling. Beyond the first impressions, the activity will deliver value for brands if it merits multiple views and contains elements to debate or decode — a great enduring example being Cadbury’s “Gorilla,” which was just named the public’s favourite add of all time in 2015).

Deeper social engagement beyond simple sharing will also fuel the viral effect. We need to respect the intelligence of our audiences and stimulate conversations. Brands should use a creative wrapper, but don’t need to spoon-feed the message or underestimate the enjoyment of discovery.

Create lasting impact

Our “Best Day of My Life” music video isn’t the end of it. We’ll continue highlighting the stories of Shell’s support across a variety of initiatives to deliver more and cleaner energy for the needs of our growing world population. This activity is not about expressing hollow intentions or beliefs — it’s about action. In my view, it’s important to show that such collaborations can foster change and deliver a positive and lasting impact.

If what we do is driven by purpose, I hope that more people anticipate what comes next —some may even ask how to join in. The more people engage with the cause, the more we can generate change. And that’s a really good reason to keep chasing that viral gold.

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