An environmental start-up wanted to become the go-to brand for sustainability in the Spanish speaking world. This is how we helped.
OBJECTIVE identify the most promising positioning and design the brand identity.
CHALLENGE an improvised brand, tiny budgets, a crowded market.
INSIGHT the environmentally passionate were already onboard. To acquire scale, Sustentator had to recruit the 99% who were turning a deaf ear to the depressing news of melting ice caps and climate change.
SOLUTION first we re-positioned Sustentator as the Pragmatic Optimistic: when speaking of commuting by bike for example, we went from talking carbon footprint to calories lost and money saved instead.
Then we designed the brand identity, with a clear brand architecture: the Sustentator master brand on top, supported by distinct B2B and B2C business units, each with its own branding and online presence.
Today Sustentator holds annual conferences, provides solar energy solutions to an ever-growing number of farms and houses and LifeGuard stations along Argentina’s coast.
Facebook fans jumped from 5,000 to over two million and counting.
With African American purchasing power rivaling that of the entire nation of Mexico (1.1 vs. 1.28 trillion USD respectively) and Hispanics driving most of the growth for CPG brands*, the temptation to see them as markets is irresistible.
Many brands have thus defined minorities as their primary or secondary target. The universal formula applies: create a message relevant to this audience and place it where they are more likely to see it.
The problem arises when ethnicity is considered a defining characteristic of your audience: brands literally end up creating “black” ads and put them in “black” zip codes. In 2013 alone this was done at the tune of $2.6 billion dollars*. Now multiply this by dozens of years and the implications of this practice become apparent:
“Black median household income remains 59% that of Whites, a ratio essentially unchanged since 1967 when the Census Bureau began tracking this data.”
There’s no denying that ethnicity is an important consideration. The question is what to do with it. Consider the divergent fortunes of Jesse Jackson and Barack Obama. The Black experience has shaped the lives and views of both politicians. But while one has made it a limiting aspect of his message, the other used his community’s desire for Change as a rallying cry that viscerally resonated with a much larger group, allowing each voter to interpret that aspiration as most relevant to themselves.
As a result, one failed twice to secure his party’s nomination, the other was elected President, twice.
We call Mr Jackson’s approach Black/In: a message defined and limited by the color of its audience.
Remarkably, millions of advertising dollars are still spent this way by marketers anxious to tick the ethnic marketing box, while their ethnic agencies prosper with this short-sighted strategy that limits success and contributes to perpetuating our social ills.
Working with both the Hispanic and African American “markets'” at Chaco we learned the advantages of a Black/Out approach: a message informed but not limited by the ethnic experience. It isn’t only more socially responsible, it is also more profitable. Just ask Pharrell.