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Built On Purpose: Unilever Part 2

This week we are following up on Unilever’s brand portfolio. We’ll be taking a look at Dove, Axe, and

Built On Purpose

May 14 · Issue #18 · View online
A newsletter which introduces you to a great, purposeful, and inspiring company every other week.

This week we are following up on Unilever’s brand portfolio. We’ll be taking a look at Dove, Axe, and Knorr followed with a quick big picture recap of how Unilever is building their brand portfolio.

Unilever former chief marketing and communications officer, Keith Weed, spoke to Marketing Week last year and commented: 
Dove has showed, in a really significant way, how to build a brand with purpose. On one side creative that really cuts through the clutter and advertising around a really profound purpose around self-esteem and real beauty. It has become the largest educator of self-esteem in the world.
Purpose drives marketing
Purpose drives social programs
Not only does purpose drive their communications, it also drives their social campaigns. One of them which continues till today is the The Self-Esteem Project, which began in 2004. The movement is propelled by films, resources, and education tools backed by research along with activities and training that enable teachers.  
Purpose-led marketing in the digital world
In this article, Rob Candelino, GM and VP of marketing gives us insight on how Unilever purpose-driven marketing takes shape in the new digital landscape: 
Unilever takes a stand, and then creates a comment on society through their campaigns. Then, the people they are paid to serve, the customers, reinforce those comments through their posts.
Similar to P&G, Unilever’s purpose-driven brands start with research and focus groups, where they look for evidence and findings that connects with their purpose. For example, they are able to state facts like below and transform the insight into creative communications that resonate with their customers:
  • 10% of women with curly hair say that their hair is beautiful.
  • 86 % of women reported that they feel a societal pressure to conform and make their hair look a certain way.
A New Process
Back then what was significant about the Dove case study was the adoption of a new branding strategy called (iconic Point of View) P.O.V. - Purpose | Ownership | Vision process. 
The idea is to define purpose, ownership, and vision/values. All brand campaigns would be driven by the POV with their own insight. For example, Dove’s initial campaign utilized the insight that only 4% of women consider themselves beautiful. 
This process is explained by its creator Joah Santos in this TED talk with examples of Lady Gaga and Starbucks.
Axe is a deodorant brand, which went through a big transformation. Previously the brand appealed to young men by positioning their product as one that helps them attract girls. In 2016 they embarked on transforming their brand with a new purpose: 
Ultimately our brand purpose is to inspire guys to express their individuality, becoming their most attractive selves. But we’ve discovered that there is a huge amount of pressure on guys to ‘be a man’ and this is really holding them back from expressing themselves. So we’re on a mission to expose that pressure and empower guys to be whoever they damn well want.
The global cooking brand’s purpose is to enrich people’s lives through flavor.  From the lens of sustainability they have to major ambitions:
  • to source 100% of raw agricultural materials sustainably
  • to help more than 1 billion people improve their health and well-being by teaching them how to cook nutritiously by 2020
Recently in Philippines Knorr embarked on a pilot program that reduced malnutrition in children by 50 percent in the community chosen for the program. The big idea was coming up “with nutritious, delicious, and affordable meal ideas that were within every household’s budget – and of course to educate parents (primarily mothers) about preparing them.”
What is notable is the holistic approach. Rather than focusing on the malnourished children directly, they focused on empowering their mothers to help children, and, thus, making the approach more sustainable and scalable. 
Incubating the brands of tomorrow
Unilever is forward thinking and is proactive in experimenting with new things. They have a digital disruption center in Manhattan known as The Hub, which launched Skinsei, a personalized skincare monthly subscription service.
  • Kju, a fragrance in China created by a French perfumer and Korean graphic designer in under six months
  • Hijab, an Indonesian hair-care brand for women who wear Muslim head coverings and based on a Russian formulation
  • Blow, an on-demand hair, makeup and nail service dubbed “the Uber of beauty” and funded in London by Unilever Ventures
  • Impulse, a European fragrance brand created in partnership with four German and U.K. beauty bloggers
What’s impressive and noteworthy here is how a big consumer goods company can simultaneously have a venture capital mindset. 
Building the purpose-driven brand portfolio
Whew. Across two issues, we’ve covered lots of ground on Unilever’s purpose-driven brand portfolio. We looked at how they transformed some of their existing brands as well as new and upcoming brands they’re incubating. It should also be noted they also acquire brands like Seventh Generation, Dollar Shave Club, and Sir Kensington’s to complete their portfolio. 
The movement of purpose-led brand
This concluded our series of purpose brands. Before I sign off, here are some other things I found researching for the last couple of issues showing the purpose brands movement is stronger than ever before.

Thanks for reading. Take great care and see you next issue.

With Purpose,
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