Written by Julie Purser & Alan Casey
Partners at Prophet
It is more important than ever for companies to have a brand purpose. To remain relevant to their customers, companies need to find opportunities to share that purpose with the world and in turn, also become inspiring places to work for their employees.
A powerful way to reinforce a brand’s value to both internal and external audiences is through brand anniversaries.
They are also an opportunity to celebrate the past, while setting up a vision for the future.
In the past few years, many iconic brands have used key anniversary milestones to strengthen ties with their stakeholders and build brand perceptions around a strong purpose. But anniversary celebrations can be used in different strategic ways as well. We’ve identified 3 ways brands can make the most of their anniversary through a focused strategy.
3 Ways Brands Can Use Anniversaries to Reinforce Their Brand’s Purpose
(1) Reinforce the Core
For example, Marvel Studios used its 10-year anniversary to engage core fans and drive loyalty through its “More Than a Hero” campaign. The branding campaign kicked off with a week-long event showcasing 20 Marvel movies in IMAX theaters. Marvel also released behind-the-scenes, never before seen footage and launched a sweepstake for fans to share their favorite Marvel memory on social media.
Through these activities and content, they successfully engaged tens of thousands of fans in live events and via anniversary videos on YouTube (which received over two million views), helping to cement loyalty for the franchise.
(2) Strengthen Your Image
Swiss Re celebrated its 150th anniversary by engaging stakeholders worldwide to participate in collaborative dialogues on important topics of our time, such as advancing sustainable energy solutions, funding longer lives and partnering for food security. To achieve its goals, Swiss Re launched The Open Minds Forum around the world, discussing ground-breaking ideas and exploring fresh perspectives on the risks facing generations to come. Employees were also encouraged to write articles and share their perspective.
The anniversary celebration helped Swiss Re initiate conversations around business and societal risks with its customers and reinforced the brand image of being ‘smarter together,’ by creating a dialogue with people around the world.
(3) Shift the Narrative
For its centennial anniversary, BMW launched “The Next 100 Years”, a year-long integrated campaign to strengthen its brand worldwide. As part of the campaign, the company revealed four concept cars and released “The Next 100” publication to invite industry experts & pioneer thinkers to envision the future of BMW. They interacted with consumers digitally through curated content on a dedicated centennial website, live discussions on social media platforms, and AR/VR interaction through the ‘BMW VISIONS’ mobile app.
These anniversary celebrations bolstered BMW’s status as a future shaper by gathering hundreds of thousands of guests and consumers to join celebration events in person or online.
How Do Anniversary Celebrations Help to Amplify Brand Purpose?
While each of these celebrations took on different forms and focused on different objectives, there were four guiding principles they each followed which made them successful:
1. Be authentic: For any anniversary celebration, you need to stay true to your brand DNA in everything you do and say
2. Be clear: You need to have clear objectives and create a single, overarching theme to align all activities and leave stakeholders with a clear understanding of what your brand stands for
3. Be targeted: You must consider what you represent to different stakeholders and design specific ways to engage each of them appropriately
4. Be bold and brilliant: To deliver impact, you must activate at sufficient scale and frequency to get noticed and to show the company in a new light
Anniversaries are a great time for celebration and a great opportunity to reinforce your brand purpose. To get the most out of the milestone, they require a deliberate approach. As you plan your next brand anniversary make sure you do four key things:
1. Align on the vision, with clear objectives and a creative theme that will serve as the guiding foundation to engage all stakeholders
2. Plan the experiences throughout the campaign and define the desired interaction and requirements
3. Design and develop unique content to bring the experience to life at each touchpoint – spanning digital & physical and internal & external
4. Prepare for activation with an integrated roadmap that pulls together all activities into a coherent campaign
Anniversaries are a way to give your brand credibility to build for the future, and this will help you attract and retain the talent you need. And after all, that is certainly a cause for celebration.