Around mid-December and through to the end of January, publications from multiple industries start releasing their predictions for trends in the upcoming year. In the marketing world, that means article upon article of predictions relating to new technology and innovation, trends in workplace culture, and the many ways data will continue to rule everything we do and measure.

I won’t lie, I am a sucker for this type of content that takes forward-thinking concepts and presents them in a way that is digestible and exciting. That being said, content can become repetitive quite quickly with the number of outlets publishing these same kinds of articles.

In this year’s sea of trend reports, one in particular stuck out to me, based on what I have seen across the industries we work in as well as a core focus for us at TACK10. Marketing Week released an article titled Trends for 2018: Purpose will morph back into positioning and paired it with a question on Twitter of whether or not brands will move away from “doing good for the sake of it.”

Just a few months ago, TACK10 was honoured to become recognized as a Certified B Corporation; a for-profit company creating a positive impact on society. The announcement came with the formal launch of our Manifesto (including our focus on the “Three P’s” – People, Purpose and Profit), our 5% Pledge, and our Big Hairy Audacious Goal. For us, purpose is built into our value proposition, our brand positioning, and the vision that propels our work every day. This is why Marketing Week’s article caught my eye; it made me realize that not every brand mentioning cause or purpose does so in a way that is authentic and really makes a difference.

Marketing Week’s Prediction
In the article, Marketing Week’s Lucy Tesseras focused her prediction on actually removing cause from the equation, shifting the term “purpose” back into “brand purpose” or “brand positioning.” The article states that “2018 should be the year brands move away from doing purpose for purpose’s sake (particularly when it is simply a clumsy bolt-on) and instead focus on brand differentiation through better defined positioning.”

While it is true that the definition of a brand’s positioning or purpose is the sum of the parts that make up what the brand stands for and what differentiates it, cause can certainly be woven into the DNA of a profitable business authentically. Perhaps the issue with purpose here is in the way the term is interpreted, rather than how it is used at its core. Focusing on cause as an element of a brand’s purpose, and not the purpose itself, would work toward Marketing Week’s prediction here.

Looking Forward, TACK10 Style
I certainly agree – or at least hope – that the idea of brands doing good for the sake of doing good will be seen much less frequently in 2018. Where my thoughts differ is in the prediction that brands will move away from cause completely and revamp their purpose statements to be rooted in the brand’s differentiating factors alone.

The trend I’m most looking forward to seeing? More companies taking a real stand on societal issues, aligning themselves and their communications with causes that matter to them at their core. This doesn’t mean allotting a predetermined number of hours to team volunteerism, or a one-time donation to a charity of choice. This means integrating cause and purposeful actions into day-to-day operations.

The Final Bell
When importance is placed on acting with purpose, a number of valuable processes follow. My prediction for 2018 is that brands rooted in cause will focus on integrating their purpose with marketing through the following Three C’s:

  • Communications: As brands embrace cause, they should be looking to authentically communicate what is important to them across channels, creating a focused or streamlined message to be shared consistently throughout the editorial calendar.
  • Creativity: Cause marketing campaigns require a lot of creativity and the ability to be flexible in order to effectively get the message and the purpose across. Heartwarming or powerful, a brand’s cause marketing message needs to stop consumers in their tracks and cut through all other competing messaging. Take “The Real Hangry” for instance.
  • Collaboration: At TACK10, our team is constantly collaborating in order to produce the best quality work for our clients while staying true to our purpose and values. Brands who truly focus on cause in 2018 will also have to place an importance on collaboration, not only internally but externally through partnerships to drive the greatest impact.
Megan Kimmerer

Megan Kimmerer

Marketing and Communications Coordinator

An avid and versatile communicator, Megan creates narratives that engage a brand or organization’s stakeholders by taking an informed look at the current landscape and determining the best way to reach the target audience. With a background spanning from journalism to television production to marketing, Megan applies a holistic approach to every project she works on with TACK10.