How Brands Can Foster Meaningful Ties By Empowering Communities

How Brands Can Foster Meaningful Ties By Empowering Communities
Design

More brands are contributing to platforms, research and tools that improve quality of life for everyday citizens

PSFK
  • 19 february 2018

How does a brand move beyond commodity to something that touches the lives of a broader community? While cause-based marketing and initiatives are top-of-mind for many brands, building long-lasting ties between brands and communities is easier said than done. With the rise of Millennials and Gen Z, authenticity is the word on everyone’s lips, but many brands still fail to translate this into action. It’s unsurprising that a 2017 survey by Havas Group found that most people reportedly wouldn’t care if 70% of the world’s brands disappeared.

“There’s empirical evidence that suggests there’s an increasing apathy for brands. It’s too much white noise, not enough authenticity,” said Max Lenderman, CEO of School, a purpose-led, cause-marketing creative consultancy. Hoping to better understand how brands can cut through the white noise, PSFK researchers found several success stories of brand-lead platforms, tools and resources that create tangible positive changes within communities.

We explored three best-in-class examples of initiatives that promote community sharing and sustainable living practices:

IKEA 
IKEA‘s innovation lab Space10 created a pop-up hydroponic vertical farm to showcase its Lokal project, where microgreens are grown indoors at local vertical farms. The pop-up aimed to provide a space-saving and sustainable way for people to grow their own food, as well as test how Londoners at London’s Design Festival felt about food grown hydroponically and whether they liked the taste of the microgreens.

Motherboard 
Tech website Motherboard, owned by Vice Media, is building a community-owned internet network in its Brooklyn home turf to combat the FCC’s move to kill net neutrality, and in hopes of inspiring a nationwide grassroots movement. The plan for building a community-based network out of Vice’s Williamsburg headquarters was inspired by the success of an underserved Detroit community that built its own internet network earlier this year. That initiative now provides internet to three Detroit neighborhoods that were historically ignored by big telecom.

NYC Mesh 
NYC Mesh is creating a community-owned internet network by putting large antennas on top of buildings that connect directly to the internet through fiber optic cable. These “supernodes” are supported by a network of point-to-point routers that volunteers install on rooftops and windows in the area, providing a fast connection for users. The project has gained momentum since the FCC’s decision to end net neutrality.

By creating services that everyday people can use to improve their way of life, brands foster goodwill while curating authentic relationships in communities where they do business. For more ideas on how to improve spaces through cause-based marketing and initiatives, check out our recent report Applying Brand Impact To Improve Public Spaces.


Lead Image: The Growroom urban farm pavilion from IKEA Space10

How does a brand move beyond commodity to something that touches the lives of a broader community? While cause-based marketing and initiatives are top-of-mind for many brands, building long-lasting ties between brands and communities is easier said than done. With the rise of Millennials and Gen Z, authenticity is the word on everyone’s lips, but many brands still fail to translate this into action. It’s unsurprising that a 2017 survey by Havas Group found that most people reportedly wouldn’t care if 70% of the world’s brands disappeared.

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