How do you build a brand in a polarised world?

by Guest Contributors Anahi Lucas & Felipe Ramirez | December 10, 2018

Author: Anahi Lucas

Anahi Lucas
Regional LatAm Client Manager
Insights Division, Kantar

Author: Felipe Ramirez

Felipe Ramirez
Chief Solutions Officer Latam
Insights Division, Kantar

If the Brazilian presidential elections have shown us anything, it is that Brazil is a big and complex country that includes people with different - and sometimes even opposite - points of view.

The gender diversity movement in Brazil has grown immensely in the past five years.  As a result, new ways of understanding and expressing gender have emerged, and they now coexist with more traditional views. The same applies to social trends like ethnic diversity inclusivity, the increase in startups with a focus on social purposes, the growth of natural and organic consumption, sustainability, new age therapies, among others. So, how can a brand create a successful brand image that will relate to consumers in a context where the opinions are polarised?


The Kantar Consulting study ‘The future of consumption’ has given us an important clue: small is the new big. Thanks to social media, consumers can easily share experiences and learn about their interests. With the growth of both e-commerce and startups, now there are small companies that can offer products and services specifically designed for every need: organic personal care products, sustainable home-care solutions, hair products that celebrate natural black afro hair, clothes for the empowered women, and a large trend for “pink money”.

A brand no longer needs, nor can embrace, all trends. It must create sub-brands specifically designed for each niche, and reach each one using algorithms. The organic food brand Mãe Terra recently bought by Unilever has been a smart move in this way. 

Therefore, here are six points that are extremely important if the brand wants to be effective in terms of building brand image:

  1. Position, or be positioned – If there is one lesson we’ve learned from the increase of online social activism, is that brands can no longer play it safe. If a brand doesn’t position itself, it will be positioned by consumers. Even rock stars have suffered: The hugely beloved Anitta has been forced to position herself clearly against homophobic public figures after being criticized by her own fans, that called her a hypocrite for remaining neutral while benefiting from an LGBTQ+ audience.
  2. Choose your flag – Brands like L’Oréal, who chose a trans person to be the Brazilian spokesperson, and Zona-Jobs have benefited greatly by being disruptive, accurate, and by communicating in a timely manner.
  3. Be ahead of the game – Brands such as Skol (the second most valuable brand in LatAm) and Tecate have changed their entire image right on time, moving from misogyny, to a more diverse and inclusive one. Other beer brands copied this style, but were seen to be opportunistic rather than being a true agent of change..
  4. Know your audience – Brands need to know the exact profile of their targets, segmented clearly in multiple niches, and communicate effectively using appropriate social imagery and language. Otherwise, brand efforts will just not translate into brand appeal because the consumer won´t identify with it. Both Boticario and Natura are great examples of this.  
  5. Be consistent – As has been shown by AdReaction and BrandZ analysis, millennials have brand love, but they are not blinded by it. They’ll do their research, and if a brand claims to be sustainable, it needs to guarantee that not only in their advertising, but all throughout the company. Otherwise, consumers will go viral to criticize the brand. Avon is a role model in terms of ensuring the brand purpose permeates the company; they talk  about social empowerment, sexual and ethnic diversity in their advertising, but they also pursue social initiatives that make the brand be seen as authentic.
  6. Delivering accurately – Your target is not a single one anymore, you need to reach the different niches that now compose your target brand. Therefore, your programmatic media buying needs to be carefully planned. Otherwise, you can have a great idea, but it won’t be delivered to the right people.

What this new social context has shown us is that market intelligence is fundamental. An effective brand positioning now requires the careful analysis of several complex variables that can only be provided effectively by data integration and consultancy. With that said, how would or should you position your brand? Please share your thoughts.

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