Beatriz Redondo Tejedor

// Head of Content

It’s 2019 and the world of marketing seems to be in the midst of a conceptual revolution. With so many new buzzwords to learn, groundbreaking technology to use and creative ideas to try, brands have little time to even consider what “doing marketing” really means in 2019.

The good news is that the basics haven’t changed: marketing is all about creating and promoting something’s value. It’s all about finding different ways to connect with an audience to communicate what makes that product or service unique and indispensable.

But in the world we live in now, value is not just defined by the practical qualities of a product. What a brand is and what a brand stands for is now just as important as what a product can do. With an audience that is more in tune with the environment than ever before, taking part in the conversation is not simply recommended, but also expected. Communicating on brand ethics is an integral part of any marketing strategy.

Brand Marketing: Humanizing Your Marketing

The marketing space has become so crowded and competitive that achieving consumer loyalty is now a top priority for companies, and humanizing your brand is essential to accomplishing this.

As Colin Lewis warns, “the transformation of the economic and cultural landscape means a very different era for marketers awaits. Marketers need to understand that as a result, the very notion of value is changing.”

In a previous era, price and offer could’ve been enough to keep customers coming back. But, now, a more conscious consumer base means companies have to work hard in being different and making a difference. Creating an emotional connection between the brand and its customers is key to strengthen the relationship between them.

As we mentioned when discussing the email marketing trends that would play important roles during 2019, making a positive impact and effectively telling a brand’s story is a way to bond with clients because consumers have become more wary and less moved by aggressive selling, and are much more receptive towards brand storytelling and brand values.

Storytelling: Sharing Brand Values via Email

Brand storytelling is essentially storyselling. To stand out from the competition, brands need to show their personality and make clear what their values are, and email is the best channel to do so.

According to The Drum, 80% of consumers want brands to tell their story but can’t remember a good example. When done right, storytelling engages customers in the long-term and allows them to relate to the brand’s personality and mission. They will start to feel emotionally invested in the brand’s success.

Telling a brand’s story that people will remember and feel connected to isn’t the simplest thing to do. Here are some tips to help start the process.

Start at the very beginning

It’s right at the start of a relationship with a client that brands should place the first pieces to build that emotional connection. Welcome emails can be a great resource to set the scene and introduce the mission.

For example, for shoe retailer TOMS, it’s all about positioning itself as a ‘movement’ and a ‘family’, rather than a faceless corporation. After signing up, the user can customize their relationship with the brand, choosing which stories they’d like to hear from the get-go.
TOMS welcome email with a picture of children running

Celebrate success

Every story needs a hero. Whether it’s the brand or the customer that takes on the role, sharing the impact that others have on the world and celebrating milestones (both the brand’s and the customers’) is a fantastic way to connect with your audience.

For example, a favourite tactic of American Express is to showcase stories of customers who have used their rewards to achieve success and entrepreneurs that are making a difference – an original take on the traditional testimonial campaign.

Keep it real

We all know when a smile is fake. When trying to establish trust with subscribers, marketers should avoid stock images. Instead, they should welcome the user or celebrate the brand’s success with photos of customers who are genuinely telling the story.

Have a look at Uber’s campaign. By putting the spotlight on their driver’s heroism rather than on the company, Uber doubles down on their emotional appeal and showcases inclusivity in how they celebrate success.
Uber's email celebrates one of their employee's heroic actions

Use all of your channels

Once upon a time, stories were just passed on by word-of-mouth. Now there are so many different ways to share brand values: email is one of them, but something as important as brand ethics should not be limited to the inbox.

A good approach is to level up the multichannel communication strategy and share the story with clients across multiple touchpoints, including the website, social media profiles, email, offline, etc.

How Top Brands Use Email to Share Their Values

Focusing on what the company is most passionate about and what it stands for is a first step in brand development. For many, it’s about protecting the environment or creating a more inclusive and diverse society. Others focus on promoting research and development to pursue innovation in their fields. Most want their customers to know they care about protecting their personal information and making the Internet a safe place for all.

Defining those values that are crucial to a brand’s story is the inception, and sharing them is the logical next step. And while email should never be the only channel to show what a company is all about, it is the cornerstone of brand ethics storytelling.

Here are eight examples of how some of the top companies out there share their focus on sustainability, inclusivity, innovation and data compliance.

Sustainability

The climate crisis is a defining problem for this era, and the state of planet Earth is becoming not only an individual concern, but also a corporate one. When talking about brand ethics, ensuring business development goes hand in hand with protecting the environment. It has become one of the most sought after brand values for consumers, and more and more brands are looking at how to put this at the forefront of their branding initiatives.

In the retail industry, a number of brands have taken action following Greenpeace’s lobbying to stop the use of hazardous chemicals in the fashion supply chain, and many retailers are moving away from paper receipts. For French leader Galeries Lafayette, for example, ecology was a decisive element in their decision to go paperless, reducing the amount of paper and addressing an environmental concern.

Here are two examples of how brands might be putting their eco-warrior side forward and telling their sustainability story via email.

Lush

Lush's entire email is dedicated to their sustainability practices
Lush dedicates an entire email to talk about what they stand for. Its powerful copy (‘Our values are in our products’) makes it clear that sustainability is not just a box to tick, but something Lush takes very seriously. The fantastic visuals highlight both the product and the production chain, reinforcing the fact that the value is not only in the product, but ingrained in the entire brand itself.

Bulb

Bulb's email turns the numbers into a story that is more engaging
For energy provider Bulb, sustainability is at the heart of the business. With green energy being one of their mottos, sharing their users and company’s achievements is key to creating customer loyalty.
This recap email turns numbers into stories (with engaging visuals to make those numbers more interesting) and encourages the reader to share on Twitter, seamlessly integrating these two powerful channels to reach a new audience.

Inclusivity

Increasingly, companies are embracing diversity and inclusivity in the workplace as a way to remind the world that both of these are correlated to a company’s profitability, but advocating for D&I goes beyond that.

Implementing company wide actions that can set an example for and inspire others around the globe can make a positive impact in the world. Sharing the story by email can show customers what the brand stands for, and what they will do to make a change.

Here’s what we can learn from Leesa’s and Tom’s great examples.

Leesa

Leesa shows that purchasing from them benefits others
If there’s anything better than solving a problem for oneself, it’s knowing that others have been helped along the way. This is the key message behind Leesa’s email. A mattress is not a luxury, it’s something we all need, and buy purchasing one from Leesa, the customer has just helped those in less favorable circumstances, while simultaneously supporting a company that fights to make the world a more inclusive place.

TOMS

TOMS email shows that buying a pair of shoes gives a pair to someone in need
For TOMS, an essential part of their strategy is communicating on its brand values. They do it on all their emails and they’ve made the One for One motto a key part of their messaging across all brand communications. It’s not just a one-off, it’s as important as the product itself.

Innovation

For some companies, especially those in the tech industry, research and development is a pivotal element to their business strategy. Being at the forefront when it comes to progress within the industry by promoting R&D and challenging the status quo is key to their product development and their internal culture.

This is not exclusive to technology, and many brands find this is a value they share with their target audience. Here’s how outdoor clothing companies Oros and Patagonia share their quest for constant innovation.

Oros

Oros' welcome email shows they are always innovating
For Oros, the idea of innovation and pushing the limits is present at all levels, which is obvious not just only on this email, but even from their motto ‘Find your beyond’. On this welcome email, Oros connects with its audience by focusing on something that’s key for both the company and its customers: rethinking boundaries, innovating and moving forward.

Patagoina

Patagonia shows their innovation with awards and reviews
Similarly, Patagonia also places its focus on R&D and pushing boundaries. What makes this email special is not just the values the company shares, but how it shares them.

A lot of brands out there will talk about how they continue to focus on creating the best products they can, or adding the latest technological advancements to their services. But, there’s a difference between having something to say, and actually having something to show for it. Patagonia uses quotes and awards as a way to add social proof to let people know it’s not just them saying it.

Data Compliance

A year after GDPR, and as a result of the controversy generated by certain data privacy cases around the world, including the Facebook – Cambridge Analytica scandal, data compliance has become a big concern for many customers.

In fact, in a recent study conducted by Mailjet, 39% of surveyed customers called for harsher enforcement of penalties against brands who break data privacy regulations, especially amongst large brands, for whom 27% of consumers believed seem untouched by GDPR.

Showcasing how much your company values data privacy, and going above and beyond when it comes to protecting your users’ data rights, is the best way to get your customers to trust you.

Here’s how Slack and Hostelworld are doing just that.

Slack

Slack sent out an email for GDPR that bullet-pointed the important info
When GDPR came into effect a year ago, many companies sent out emails to inform their users about the changes in the data protection policies. However, most were just an announcement of these changes. They included links to full documents that felt more like an obligation the company was fulfilling by communicating this, rather than a desire to be upfront and honest with the customers.

Slack’s email does a great job in highlighting the main takeaways, while making the reader really believe that they care about clarity and transparency. It’s easy to read, straight to the point and unambiguous.

Hostelworld

Hostelworld sent out a very clear data protection email explaining why they can be trusted
HostelWorld has put together a very clear Data Protection Notice as a way to show how important this is for the company. But it’s not just about providing clarity, it’s also about letting people know that they can trust HostelWorld with their personal information. This is why they use email to communicate this and reinforce the idea that HostelWorld can be trusted.

Summing Up

Brand ethics are slowly becoming one of the most important layers to building a product’s value. Humanizing a brand goes beyond finding the values that will define a company’s role in society. While coming up with those is a necessary first step, sharing them is what will make consumers loyal to a particular product or service.

Brand strategists will have to work on not only designing the company’s story, but also choosing the right channels to communicate it to an audience. Out of all the marketing channels available, email offers the best opportunities to connect with contacts throughout the consumer lifecycle.

In a world in which value is not only defined by a product’s qualities, but also by brand ethics, applying storytelling techniques to share values has become a must in brand marketing.