It was the bread that did it.
When Sainsbury’s remarketed their tiger loaf as ‘giraffe’ bread, all at the bequest of an observant three-year old, they cemented my affinity for conscious, responsive brands.
Some decried it as a gimmick but to me it smacked of authenticity: a small voice that was cleverly picked up and well managed, and a simple amend that made a big difference. And yes – an excellent example of reactive marketing, because the two needn’t be mutually exclusive.
It proved that even a corporate chain can believe in its customers – a trait usually more concurrent with smaller, more agile brands and something copywriters can easily forget.
Where once brands of all sizes might have traded on catchiness – Start your day the Kellogg’s Way! – or reputation – Don’t say brown, say Hovis! – evolved brands realise the benefit of putting people ahead of the product.
‘Lifestyle’ then becomes the language of brands that believe, which, as a lifestyle writer, is irresistible and offers scope to flex my creativity.
These are brands that don't need to convince customers, they simply need to find them, and they tend to like them when they do.
They say we are like you with pride, and proof: we use this product ourselves and here are 24,000 tangible reasons why we love it. We would be lost without and if you don’t buy it our belief will remain steadfast.
It puts me in mind of that old, meta riddle about trees falling in empty woods with no one present to hear.
Brands that believe are driven to improve their product to improve lives, not things. This appeals to my own desire to push myself (something you’ll find it in anyone stupid enough to go freelance) and to connect with people through my writing. Do better, be nicer, act kinder goes the mantra; for the consumer, for the environment, for the progression of society. Maybe the brand is selling car batteries, maybe silk sarongs – brands that believe are never afraid of big ideas.
Quickly, the brand/customer relationship evolves into something more akin to a partnership: the brand enjoys chatting about shared passions with a consumer on the end of the line. In turn the consumer takes agency in the brand’s survival. They feel empowered when they engage with this brand.
I became a lifestyle writer because I am fascinated by other peoples’ lives. Brands that believe recognise individuality amongst the mass of ‘other people’ consumers. They won’t win everyone over and they respect your right to disagree.
But this is not about selling to everyone. This is about selling to the people that have faith.