|For brands to flourish in the long-term - need to restore resonance with consumers and brands, sustainability messaging needs to be aspirational and fruitful to appeal, through 'branded flourishing'.
Sustainability seems to be a cause for reluctance and hesitation. Many marketers hover nervously in a doorway marked 'sustainability,' eager for others to lead the way. It's a 'you first' stand-off.
There are issues nudging businesses towards that door, from risk mitigation, to cost savings, to corporate and brand reputation.
It can feel like a sacrifice to engage with this thing called sustainability - a sacrifice that feels a step too far as the environmental economic factors appears to waver...
WOW-O-WOW offers one version of what a door-crossing might look like - one which we believe to be aspirational, exciting and fruitful.
We call this 'branded flourishing'.
This is one characterisation of the opportunity that lies in crossing through that doorway, and the benefits for businesses, brands and the citizens that they touch.
WHAT IS BRANDED FLOURISHING?
There is a growing questioning of GDP as the optimum measure of a country's success. Expert economists have advocated a 'capabilities approach' to human development.
The central question asked by the capabilities approach is not: 'how satisfied is a person?' or 'how much in the way of resources do they own?'...
It is, instead: 'What is this person actually able to do and to be?'
These capacities that a person has to do and be have been called 'capabilities for flourishing'. They are those capabilities that a person can have to be healthy and safe, to play, to learn, to love and to live in caring relationships with each other and their environment. It is ideas like these that have, in part, led to a move towards metrics for development that lie beyond GDP.
What would an analogous 'capabilities approach' for brands look like?
||Presumably the question that captures this is 'what is my brand enabling people to do and to be?'
If the answer is to live in safety, in health, to be able to play, to learn, to love and to connect with people and the environment around her, then the brand is expanding their capabilities for flourishing.
Conversely, if it is hindering their ability to do these things, then the brand is restricting such capabilities.
Here, brand behaviours should be seen in their widest sense to include products, services, packaging, distribution, internal engagement, partnerships and communications.
This can lead to a definition: 'A brand is practising branded flourishing when its behaviours increase the capabilities for flourishing of the people it touches, and those behaviours minimise the restriction of those capabilities.'
Through branded flourishing, brands can become enablers of capabilities for flourishing, both expanding them and championing them. Branded flourishing is an opportunity to engage not just responsibly as a corporation (as 'CSR' might usually have it), but to empower and nurture, both at an individual and at a community level. It is actively socially and environmentally beneficial brand behaviour.
But why would we wish to make branded flourishing part of the brand behaviour?
There are brands, with their ubiquity and political, economic and cultural clout, helping to increase flourishing in the world. They are harnessing the strong collective emotional identity that they stand for to promote flourishing. That's great, but if this is to be an appealing strategy for brands, it has to be clear what's in it for them at an economic level.
The more time people want to spend with a given brand, the more people are likely to bond with that brand, and, in consequence, the higher its market share is likely to be. There are a few 'likely's in that sentence, but the correlation is strong. In essence: Time = Bonding = Buying.
The first question is, can branded flourishing increase the time that people want to spend with a brand? That is, does branded flourishing equal time?
Second, is branded flourishing going to be any more effective or efficient for a brand than other activity? If so, branded flourishing will represent an economically valuable activity for brands to engage in.