Frontify asks Snask one of branding’s biggest questions: how do you merge ethics with brand strategy?
In the most recent episode of its podcast, Frontify speaks with Swedish design agency and partner Snask about how to apply ethics to the branding process – and the positive impact it will undoubtedly have.
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- 13 June 2022
You might know Frontify as a brand management software company that provides brands with a welcoming digital home. But Frontify also aims to generate conversations, exploring interesting topics in branding, marketing and design through various channels. One such channel is its podcast, a treasure trove of first-hand insights from changemakers throughout the branding world.
Frontify has gained some brilliant insights from working with a wide range of brands around the world, helping the company to observe emerging trends that its team regularly explores more deeply in its podcast. Ethics is one such focus – a big topic that is not always black or white but covers a large grey zone. Today, throughout both millennial and Gen-Z audiences, the demand for transparency has become ever more present, and people are seeking out brands that align with their values and beliefs. But Frontify is keen to impress that defining ethical behaviour and leading by example is not always such a clear-cut path. “We’ve seen first hand that organisations handle things differently, and in the case of those that pursue a path of ethical choices with intent to enrich society, they’re directly taking responsibility in their hands,” says Simone Luker, product design lead at Frontify. This move towards responsibility, with all its challenges and opportunities, sparked Frontify’s curiosity to learn more, instigating a discussion with Snask as an agency that holds honesty and transparency at its core.
In Frontify’s podcast interview with Gia Stridbeck and Freddie Öst from Snask, it becomes clear that ethics has become one of the most influential factors in a brand’s success. Ethical branding provides the opportunity for companies to turn beliefs into positive change. In fact, Gia and Freddie go so far as to say: “Brands that don’t do this will become obsolete after a while.” But, as Freddie highlights during the conversation, responding to such desires cannot simply be a presentation, or a front: “We always strongly recommend to brands that they don’t express values they can’t stand behind or deliver on,” he says. “So to us, having full transparency of values is a must, but never if it’s in a fake way or ‘just because’.”
One brilliant example of such an approach, as mentioned by the Snask team, is outdoor brand Patagonia. For Gia, they represent the ethos of taking a stand and being steadfast in what you believe in: “It’s not just about sales; it’s about actually making a difference by really pushing for a change for the environment and making sure that environmental issues are always on the agenda,” says Gia. “They [Patagonia] are very honest. If they make a mistake, they say it. If they’re not certain, they also say it. But they also go ahead with things they strongly believe in.”
Brands like Patagonia are at the forefront of building ethics into their brand strategy. But actually making sure your brand strategy reflects your core values is no mean feat. Snask offers some of its own strategies as examples of how it makes sure to merge ethics with the studio’s brand. Strategy number one is to “make enemies, gain fans”: Accept that in the process of taking a stand, you’re going to upset some people, but in the long run, “you’ll build brand loyalty”. The second point is to “make ethics part of your long-term brand strategy.” No changes are going to be made overnight, so commitment and persistence are essential. And the third element, quite simply put, is to “stay pink”. “Use more heart and less head. Be quirky. Be daring. Be who you’re born to be and speak freely about it,” explains Gia.
For Janine Bosshart, brand strategist at Frontify, one element that unifies some of the most successful brands is authenticity. “While every brand is unique, having a focus on north stars that are unique to one’s brand will guide consistent behaviours and brand expressions that people can buy into. Having such guidance enables building a strong brand that makes it easy for people to engage with,” says Janine. “Brands thrive and evolve. This journey looks different for every brand but being dedicated to a strong belief system is critical for success. Whatever the road and point of view, without a solid belief system and dedication to it at every turn, it all falls flat.”
The Snask team shared some key takeaways for those in the early stages of their business, and how important the process of honest self-reflection is. “First of all, sit down and figure out why you started your business. And no, money can’t be that reason. What’s your drive, and why do you do this? And why should people care?” concludes Gia. “If you do this right, you will find what ethics and values you have, and then, you just need to make sure they are heard and embedded into your company’s culture and communication and make it accessible for anyone.”
Follow the link below to listen to the podcast in full and learn how you can turn your company beliefs into positive change.
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