“In a year dominated by uncertainty and misinformation, consumers and employees have turned to companies as a trusted news source” shared Andy Pharoah, Vice President, Corporate Affairs & Sustainability, Mars, as an opening statement while addressing the virtual audience on Day 2 of #RTSPECTRA. In the virtual world we have been living in since the past couple of months, companies, organisations and NGOs are all talking about building back a better world for the people and the planet. And considering the fact that companies have an impact equivalent to that of a city, state or small country, a bunch of large companies acting together can have a real force for good in the world.
The world we want tomorrow starts from how we do business today, and what’s most needed in today’s time is purpose-driven brands that understand the responsibilities resting on their shoulders. Purpose is a simple articulation of an organisation’s North Star which not just needs to reflect the reality of who they are but it also needs to be apprehensive. It needs to represent both, where they are now and where they want to be in the future, in a way that’s credible and believable. The purpose of your brand is rooted in three key factors: who you are, where you come from, and what do you want to achieve. It’s important to note that purpose cannot be used as a lens for making business decisions. However, it can very much be the engine of a brand’s success. Thus, it’s important that the words and actions of a brand always go hand in hand.
When it comes to purpose, Mars has worked to great extents in building back a better world for the people and the planet. The brand established a set of three priorities during the pandemic that it ensures to follow at all times, i.e., to protect the health and well-being of the employees, to do its part to stop the spread of the virus, and to ensure business continuity. Mars has always been a principle led brand which abides by its five principals of quality, responsibility, mutuality, efficiency and freedom. These principles have been deep-rooted in the company’s history, culture and the way they do business. Additionally, it has a unique concept called the ‘Mars Compass’ which defines the objectives of business of the brand. The key components of the Mars Compass are: strong financial performance, being well-positioned for future growth, having a positive impact on the world, and being a trusted partner in the society. Working towards creating a positive impact during the pandemic, the brand focused on the local communities by partnering with NGOs and making donations for various causes from refugee aid to UN food programme to animal welfare. It also re-branded ‘Uncle Ben’s Rice’ to ‘Ben’s Original and underlined the purpose of inclusivity by listening to the voices of its consumers, especially of the ones from the black community. In fact, Mars didn’t just change the name and image of Uncle Ben’s Rice, but also its brand purpose towards diversity and inclusion.
Shifting from purpose to the topic of communications, it’s being believed that communication has never been as critical as it has been in 2020 as it plays a vital role in building meaningful relationships which is immensely important during a crisis. Good communications has literally saved many lives this year by spreading information around topics like sanitation, social distancing, basic hygiene, and how to prevent the virus from spreading. The year also taught brands that communication can never simply be words. All the purpose statements written pre-COVID19 are now being put to test as the pandemic has separated the companies which say something from the ones who actually do it as well and it’s strongly believed that the purposeful ones will win.
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