Sefiani report reveals a yearning for ‘brand belonging’

Sefiani has outlined a practical framework for building belonging, alongside global best practice case studies, in its third annual Communication that Matters report, Building Brand Belonging: Rethinking Communications for Integrity and Impact.

The report, aimed at marketing and communications leaders, outlines the opportunity for organisations to build and maintain long-term loyalty and trust by aligning the needs and values of their external and internal stakeholders with those of their brand.

This was undertaken under the backdrop that almost half (46%) of consumers and a quarter (24%) of employees in Australia are feeling more cynical about brands in 2023. The research revealed that the missing piece for these groups could be achieving a sense of ‘brand belonging’, with 92% of employees and 62% of consumers saying this is important.

Key findings include:

  • For consumers, the biggest barriers to belonging are brands taking too long to respond to issues and trends, alongside generic and blanket communications. For employees, the biggest barriers are traditional hierarchies and ‘out of touch’ thinking.
  • Communications leaders are increasingly recognising the value of belonging, with half shifting their internal (50%) and external (45%) communications strategies to boost brand belonging post-pandemic.
  • While 73% of brand and communication professionals are confident communications has the power to build belonging with stakeholders, over one third (39% have no insight into whether they’re achieving this with their customers, demonstrating the need for a measurable framework for belonging.

“Understanding and responding to themes like sustainability and climate change, diversity and inclusion, ethical supply chains, recognition of First Nations people, and acting with business integrity, are all contributing factors to fostering brand belonging”, said Sefiani Managing Director, Mandy Galmes.

Sefiani’s analysis of brands with high levels of brand belonging found they demonstrate the following consistent attributes, which the company identified closely aligned with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs:

  1. They get the basics right by addressing their audiences’ basic needs, whether that’s affordable products or job security
  2. They communicate bad (and good) news openly and honestly to ensure stakeholders feel safe and secure
  3. They work consistently to build deep connections and strong relationships, creating an environment of acceptance and belonging for all social groups
  4. They listen and then act to empower stakeholders to feel self-confident and valued
  5. They create long-term loyalty by acting as, not just saying they are, a responsible business against all ESG measures, aligning with stakeholder values and expectations.

“Marketing and communications teams typically have direct contact with both internal and external stakeholders and can serve an important role in helping organisations understand and respond to the key needs of their stakeholders. We can be true agents of change and help create positive impact for the long term,” said Galmes.

Download the report