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How to Amplify Brand Purpose with Influencer Marketing

May 27, 2024

Consumers care about what your brand stands for. 

According to Traackr’s IMPACT report, 60% of all consumers said that they would not buy a product from a brand if it says or does something that conflicts with their values. 

Putting your brand’s values at the center of everything you do (including your influencer marketing strategy) has become important for winning the hearts of minds of the modern day and next generation consumer. That being said, many brands are still hesitant to take this step because it can be easy to do this very wrong. 

We sat down with three experts at this year’s SXSW conference to understand how brands can effectively and authentically bring brand purpose into their influencer marketing strategy (and beyond), with the help of creators. 

Whether you’re a brand that is just getting started, or a heritage brand looking to bring your brand values to life, you can learn from the insights that Firdaous El Honsali, Vice-President, Dove Masterbrand Global & North America, Sarah Shaker, Head of Brand Engagement, Maybelline NY, and Claire McCormack, Senior Editor at Beauty Independent, shared during the discussion. 

Listen to the full discussion with Firdaous, Sarah and Claire here. 

How to Bring Brand Purpose Into Your Influencer Marketing Program

How to Develop Brand Purpose

From greenwashing to pinkwashing, and more, many brands have seen the detrimental effects of superficially using causes to appeal to consumers. Socially responsible brand purpose is deeper than a single slogan, landing page, or campaign. It should sit at the center of all that you do.

But how do you even develop your brand’s purpose? Start with your core values and how they differentiate your brand. 

“Your brand cannot stand for everything. My advice is to pick a pillar to focus on. From partnering with local to national organizations, we’ve been able to help so many more people by focusing our efforts on mental health and wellness.” - Sarah Shaker, Head of Brand Engagement, Maybelline NY

With a mission to make everyone, everywhere look–and feel–ready to take on their world, Maybelline developed their motto “makeup for all.” For the brand, this means being available in every major retailer to be affordable for anyone and creating a wide range of product shades for everyone to wear. When defining Maybelline’s brand purpose, the team realized that in order to help everyone, everywhere bravely take on their world they needed to support something that affects everyone, like mental health and wellness. This led to their overall mission of supporting anxiety and depression and destigmatizing the conversations around mental health. 

Once you’ve identified your brand’s specific purpose, the next step is to make sure that it is incorporated in the right way. According to Firdaous, there are three key elements that drive your brand’s purpose:

  1. Authenticity in the actions you take. How are you investing your dollars? What programs are you running to improve the lives of others? 
  2. Consistency in the messaging of your brand’s purpose and the investment behind the purpose. Pushing a new ad campaign is not enough. How is every campaign embodying your values? 
  3. Awareness of your purpose amongst your audience. Creators and influencers, who are aligned with your purpose, can become the “super boosters” of awareness. If they truly believe in your purpose, it will make your brand even more culturally relevant to their audiences. 
“When your brand’s purpose is clear and embedded into the business model, it delivers growth and enables you to be relevant in the moment.” -  Firdaous El Honsali, Vice-President, Dove Masterbrand Global & North America

Brand purpose not only shows what your brand stands for but helps steer the direction of how your brand shows up day after day.

And remember, you’re not going to get it right 100% of the time. Claire shares that it’s important to build in public and get feedback from your community. Let your community know what you are doing and what you are working on as often as possible. Your audience will hold you accountable which will help your brand bring more impact to your cause. 

“Don’t be afraid to be seen trying. If you’re going to talk the talk, you need to walk the walk and be the same brand in public as you are behind closed doors. Otherwise, people will find out and create a 10-minute TikTok about your company, digging up every little granule of dirt.” - Claire McCormack, Senior Editor at Beauty Independent

Building a Value-Driven Influencer Marketing Program 

Now that you’ve established your brand purpose, it’s time to embed those values into your campaigns. 

This starts with the creators you partner with. For Dove, who has been committed to Real Beauty for the past 20 years, they work with their creator partners based on whether they share the same values as Real Beauty. They won’t suddenly start working with a creator who spends all of their time talking about Botox and using Photoshop or AI on all of their images. 

Ensure that you are partnering with the right creators who align with your brand values. Check previous content to see if they’ve mentioned key themes similar to your brand purpose. 

More importantly, see if they’ve posted anything that conflicts with your core values. An influencer marketing platform, like Traackr, can help keep your brand safe by,

  • Conducting automated safety checks: Search a creator’s entire content history to surface all potentially controversial or sensitive topics. 
  • Continually monitoring brand safety: Set tolerance levels for controversial topics and get notified if creators exceed those thresholds. 
  • Analyzing fake followers: Avoid audience fraud by assessing the quality of a creator’s audience and the authenticity of their engagement. 

Once you identify the creators you want to work with, start building relationships with them. Of course, you should ask them to participate in your campaigns but go beyond that. 

  • Invite creators to philanthropy or foundation events. If you host events with your foundation or philanthropy partner, invite creators to attend! A great example of this is Kate Spade NY inviting creator, Taryn Delanie Smith, to an event with Boris L. Henson Foundation.  
  • Give creators a bigger role. When launching Brave Together in 2020, Maybelline New York asked mental health advocates and creators, Elyse Fox, Larissa May, and Storm Reid, to be ambassadors of the initiative. In tandem with the launch of the program, Maybelline also launched a podcast called, I’m Fine, You?, where they asked creator and mental health advocate, Chrissy Rutherford, to host the podcast. Letting these creators have more ownership over the program created a deeper connection to the brand and its cause. 
  • Ask for feedback and input. Not every brand can afford to contract influencers for big campaigns or projects. A strategy a few indie brands like Herbitual and Beekman 1802 have used is not asking creators to post or write a review for them on a retailer's website. Instead, they ask for honest feedback to improve the product and build deeper relationships with these creators. 
“You should be having two-way conversations with your creator and influencer community, whether that be about your products or purpose.”  - Firdaous El Honsali, Vice-President, Dove Masterbrand Global & North America

Building a strong community of creators will help you in the long term. Firdaous can attest with the success of Dove’s Turn Your Back Campaign which was launched in 72 hours (and won many awards at Cannes Lions!). This incredibly quick turnaround was due to the team listening to their creator partners who were challenging the Bold Glamour filter that had just launched, and acting fast to partner with them to create the massive movement of “Turning Your Back on Bold Glamour.” 

Measuring Brand Purpose Within Your Influencer Marketing Program 

If you’re investing in your brand purpose, you need to set up the structure to measure it. Otherwise, your leadership team is not going to move forward. 

Your leadership team is going to look for two things: 

  1. Are you making an impact on your brand’s social initiatives? 
  2. Are you making an impact on the growth of your brand?

To measure the impact on your brand’s social initiatives or purpose work with your NGO or organizational partners to understand if your brand is contributing to their overarching goals. Meet with them on a consistent basis to understand if your programs and campaigns are providing a positive impact. If you create your own educational material like Dove’s Self Esteem Project or Maybelline’s Brave Together, track how many people are utilizing those resources over time. Be sure it is having the impact that you expected it to have when you designed the program. 

To measure the growth of your brand or business, use the same KPIs to measure the impact as you would with any other influencer marketing campaign

Awareness Influencer Campaign Metrics 

  • Activated influencers 
  • Posts 
  • Reach 
  • Impressions 
  • Cost per post 
  • Cost per Thousand Impressions
  • Cost per View

Consideration Influencer Campaign Metrics 

  • Engagements 
  • Engagement Rate 
  • Clicks 
  • Traffic 
  • Cost per Engagement
  • Cost per Click 

Conversion Influencer Campaign Metrics 

  • Sales 

Be sure to measure along the way through social sentiment and Brand Lift Studies to see if your audience is associating your purpose with your brand. An easy way to check your social sentiment is by looking through your comments. 

“What’s the net sentiment on your brand and on your brand's values? Are they resonating on social? If you’re seeing people start to share your brand work, you know you are heading in the right direction.” - Sarah Shaker, Head of Brand Engagement, Maybelline NY

For example, Firdaous shared that Dove’s Face of 10 Campaign was likely on its way to having a massive impact due to the sheer number of thoughtful comments about the campaign. Countless moms commented on creators’ posts thanking them for sharing how “crazy” it is for young girls to be using anti-aging skincare. Creators were interacting with the comments and pointing their audience to Dove’s “Gen A Anti-Aging Skin Care Talk.”