Shaken & Stirred - Influential Brand Profiling and Positioning

Women for Women : The lowdown on how to create female-appeal

Sam Ellison and Emma Jones, founding partners at Redshoe Brand Design, a design agency specialising in designing for women, are back from M2W in New York, the world’s biggest conference on marketing to women. For anyone wanting to better engage with women through their branding, marketing and design, here is their report on the thinking that garnered the biggest share of voice at the conference

According to conference-speaker Marti Barletta (author of Marketing To Women): “women control over 20 trillion dollars in worldwide spend, are the ‘currency of success’, the fastest growing economic force in the world and could be a game changer for any brand”.

Brands are clearly starting to recognise the importance and potential of engaging with women, hence the flurry of ‘fempowerment’ campaigns last year as one response to this.  However, the overall sentiment at the conference was that, despite evidence of progress, the speed of change is not fast enough. Marketing to Women can no longer be a token gesture or a tick on a marketing brief. It’s time for brands to stop making assumptions about women and get serious – but how?

Below are three of the main take-outs from the conference to help guide you towards better engagement with women:

1.Doing well by doing good – the importance of brand purpose:

When a business finds their purpose it can be truly transformative. As Madonna Badger, President of Badger & Winters shared: “Women in particular are drawn to brands that feel human. It is not only the right choice, but the smart one”.

Badger & Winters’ mission ‘to end objectivity of women in advertising and stop the harm it causes’ allowed them to take a stand and create truly meaningful relationships with women grounded in what they really cared about. This led to a movement well beyond the stunning #WomenNotObjects and #StandUpcampaigns they created.

When brands fully embrace the power of brand purpose, they are laying a long-term foundation for brand success. Female consumers readily expect brands to have a higher calling and to make a difference to society. Brand purpose will not work unless it is authentic and resonates throughout your entire organisation. Your brand purpose doesn’t need to be the next big idea or overly differentiated, it just needs to be true!

2. Relevance and Authenticity is a virtuous circle

Relevance is as important as authenticity.  One of the main reasons brands fail to engage women is because they still persist in selling a list of product features and benefits which is no longer an appropriate way of communicating with women – after all she’s empowered and capable of finding this information herself. Today’s female consumer is looking to understand how you can help make her life a little easier/better; she wants to understand why you are relevant to her.  So a brand need to find a deeper connection that tells a story and demonstrates how and why your brand, and only your brand, is the perfect fit for her.

The message must be unique to your brand in order to build an individual relationship with her. Be warned, if the message isn’t authentic she will know and you will very quickly lose trust and advocacy.

And if you need further convincing that contextual relevance does drive effectiveness look no further than the #Imagine the possibilities campaign from Barbie, built around the proposition “When a girl plays with Barbie, she imagines everything she can become”. Tina Daniels, Director of Agency business at Google shared how this was not only one of the best performing campaigns on YouTube ever, but responsible for turning around a three year sales decline into 15% growth in just three months. And with Barbie also making their dolls available in three new body types this year, it’s clear there is a genuine desire to increase relevancy to women of the future (and their mums!).

3. Find your influencers and advocates

Alizia Freud from She Speaks verified “There’s a media revolution going on. Women are no longer waiting to watch ads on the TV, they are media savvy and engage when and where they want giving them the power to decide if they want to hear what brands have to say.”

With 84% of women not trusting advertising (McCarthy Group & Neilsen 2014) they are now looking to friends and social media for recommendations and reviews. And because of this, influencer marketing has exploded with more and more marketers tapping into the voice of bloggers, vloggers and social media stars to amplify their brands and extend reach. But finding the right advocates for your brand is absolutely key to its success or failure. It’s essential that marketers understand the ‘rules of engagement’ if campaigns are to be successful.

These include ensuring endorsements of a product truly reflect the influencers’ actual experience with it and that influencers disclose their affiliation or connection with the brand.

One company that is successfully using the power of advocacy is Unilever. They have partnered with ‘She’s The First’, a group of intensely socially conscious college students, to help provide scholarships for young girls in low income countries with their #brightfuture campaign, and in doing so they are building strong awareness and allegiance with their next generation of potential consumers.

The most powerful message from the conference was that to drive scale with women today, brands need to put relevancy and authenticity at the top of their business agenda.

Tap into the power of storytelling to create evergreen content that will win over advocates, who will in turn amplify your message. And finally, whether you are a brand or an agency, business really can do well by doing good.