Love for brands uplifting local communities

National pride can be a tricky thing at times depending on where you live. Pride in one’s city is often easier to foster and take on. Brands that work towards the good and promotion of a city or town can expect to generate a good deal of brand love in return. Because we all love it when we see our city promoted, when we see it flourish. And changes and improvements to our locality – to things like streets corners, parks and public squares – are things we really can see and feel.

How best then can brands promote local communities and so grow the love? Here are three compelling ways:

Create meaningful public spaces

Brands around the world are starting to create meaningful public spaces. While many brands are familiar with, and have perhaps already engaged in, pop-ups, this recommendation is an extension of that idea into something more meaningful – it argues for the superiority of long-lasting and truly impactful endeavours.

In 2014 Indonesia’s tyre brands Achilles and Corsa, for example, partnered with the mayor of Bandung to launch an outdoor movie park capable of holding 500 people. The park, situated under a flyover, has revitalised the space by offering free public screenings of movies and soccer matches.

Other examples of brands creating meaningful spaces are skate brand Vans creating an indoor skate park, movie theatre and concert venue in London’s Waterloo Station and Shell developing a footfall-powered soccer pitch in a Rio de Janiero favela to create a safe night-time sporting venue.

Some other ideas to help spark thought:

  • build a park in an unused lot
  • install picnic tables and benches at a popular viewing site
  • build infrastructure for a fresh-produce market in an area lacking the same

Fill the gaps left by government

No government on earth has yet to deliver on all its promises and the needs of local communities. Brands that identify these gaps and fill them in are going to garner a great deal of local love.

Samsung, for example, is sponsoring solar-powered trucks that have started to bring healthcare to rural Sub-Saharan African communities, with services ranging from hearing tests to 4D ultrasound scans and the delivering of babies.

The vans are painted in Samsung’s blue and white, and a TV mounted under an awning provides educational healthcare videos to those waiting in the queue. The brand aims to reach a million Africans by 2015.

Key to success is finding a niche that speaks to your brand – so let an electrical company install street lights in an unsafe neighbourhood, while

Some other ideas to help spark thought:

  • build a waiting station for rudimentary transport spot
  • install more recycling depots in under-served areas
  • provide audio-enhanced maps of the city for the blind

Celebrate the local

In South Africa, as elsewhere, we often have many talented but undiscovered or under-supported artists, musicians, sportspeople, chefs, and so on. Often such individuals and groups end up travelling abroad to try and find the fame and support they struggle to garner at home. Brands can be instrumental in remedying this, providing platforms for local talent to receive wider exposure and recognition.

But local doesn’t only refer to people. Think also about the local landscape, flora, fauna and architecture, among other things. Your company could perhaps build a bird hide alongside a local wetland, restore a rundown historic building, or install educational boards in local parks about its flora or fauna (similar to what’s been done in Cape Town’s Green Point Urban Park).

Some other ideas to help spark thought:

  • Host a concert showcasing local musicians
  • Protect and celebrate a local, ancient tree
  • Organise a night event in a local park when a meteorological event is to take place

Brands showing that they care about their home turf and the community are forging strong ties and finding great success.

Share your efforts online

Since we’re a digital company, we of course would stress that you shouldn’t neglect to share your efforts online. Sometimes brands are timid about promoting their CSR, feeling it undermines the merit of what they’re doing – a ‘don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing’ sort of philosophy. That’s completely understandable, and commendable, but in the world of business there is still value to publicising your works.

For starters, you want more people to know about it so they can benefit from it. Secondly, helping to foster a business culture where brands start to think more about their community involvement is a good thing. And finally, if you’re doing something with your brand name attached to it, then clearly it isn’t a secret act of kindness – it’s a strategic business step (with a humanitarian angle), so take that strategy to the max and advertise it on your site, across your social channels, through press releases and third-party sites, and so on.

Now ask yourself: is it your turn to ride the wave of local love? Be creative, have fun, and make a difference!

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