10 Ways To Ignite And Build A Brand Movement

Scott GoodsonApril 14, 202226333 min

A movement is when a big idea inspires mass engagement by the culture. For years now, we have studied and developed movement strategies for brands.
There are two types of movements: mass participation (where your big idea is embraced by pop culture) and social movements (where your big idea actually changes society or culture). Both are ways of amplifying your big idea. The business value of mass engagement by the culture includes earned media (on top of paid media) and greater penetration, conversion and loyalty through word of mouth. Net, they help build share. Big traditional advertising agency corporations with a business model to deliver traditional advertising are the old world.

Movements are the new world.

Most movements consist of four stages: formulate, agitate, explode and fuel.

Formulate: Define The Behavior Change

  1. Define the change you want to make. This will include the behavior you want your consumers to have in relation to your brand, and/or the social or cultural change you want to drive. This change should be relevant to your business challenge and brand purpose.
  2. Understand your target ‘people’. Why do they behave as they currently do? What is important to them – in the category and, importantly, in life? Look for fundamental human insights and how these link back to the brand’s purpose.
  3. Be purpose-inspired and benefit-driven. People long to be part of something bigger than them. As such, big ideas that are true to your brand purpose have a strong potential to become a movement. Equally, any brand movement needs to ultimately serve a benefit equity and drive share harder. (Note: the closer you get to a social movement, the more explicit your purpose is likely to be in the work.)

Agitate: Start Small To Grow Big

  1. Insightfully provoke a discussion. Your goal is to overcome a state of complacency. This requires you to turn a deep human (versus product) insight into a sharp instigation that stirs your audience’s souls.
  2. Create ‘must-share’ content with sticky language: consumers must want to share your content and message. Your movement must also come with memorable language that the culture can adopt.
  3. Influence the influencers. Get great content to your most passionate fan base first and to those people who most influence your mass consumers. PR and social media play a big role here.

Explode: Ignite Mass Participation

  1. Have a simple call to action. Be clear on what you are calling on your consumers to do. What must they do to be part of the movement?
  2. Ignite in key flashpoints. These are platforms where people will be disproportionately receptive to your movement messages and where your influencers can help explode your message. These flashpoints will be supported by ‘always on’ communication. Note, this stage is most relevant for social movements.

Fuel: Keep The Fire Burning

  1. Let social and cultural media be the oxygen. Movements need a place to form, so it’s critical that social media channels are open and readily available for engagement.
  2. Nurture in real time: going from agitation to explosion doesn’t just happen. It requires watching where the sparks start and engaging in the conversation there. You need to actively stoke the fire, adding bursts of fuel to make the flames jump ever higher.

Contributed to Branding Strategy Insider by: Scott Goodson and Chip Walker, excerpted from their book, Activate Brand Purpose: How To Harness The Power Of Movements To Transform Your Company

The Blake Project Helps Brands Launch Movements Through Story In The Strategic Brand Storytelling Workshop

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