Beatrice Pitocco, is the founder and CEO of Brand Street Agency, an agency that helps socially conscious brands in moving to the next level of consumer awareness, both domestically and internationally. The agency operate as a brand incubator, developing an executable strategy based on client needs. They also assist with startup VC financing, if and when needed.
What made you decide to build an agency based primarily on socially conscious brands?
As a sales and marketing professional for over 20 years, and in varying capacities, I saw the rise of independent brand owners, who were taking advantage of direct to consumer marketing. And not only independent one-man operators but I started to see the rise in digital shopping, and the decline in traditional retail. That in and of itself was enough to pique my interest, and talent for sales/marketing to see if there was a need for services such as Brand Street Agency can offer. The social conscious aspect, came organically.
It’s noted, in various reports, that Millennials – who will continue to dominate the market place for years to come – are more socially aware than their counterparts. The recognize the profits that their money is making big business and are inclined, more so than any other generation, to seek out brands that are doing right by society as a whole.
Give-backs must be authentic and for the most part they are; there are some brands and brand owners that may use a give back as a marketing ploy, however the majority of brand owners we speak with genuinely have an interest in doing good.
Can you give us some examples of these conscious brands?
Brand Street Agency has the pleasure of working with a multitude of brands; some already have a socially conscious give back, and others, engage with us to help them to organically develop a strategy for doing something more with their business than just profits.
A good example of a brand and brand owner that has been exceptionally philanthropic is Uwezo Brands.
Uwezo means “capacity” or “ability” in Swahili, but it stands for so much more. It’s a unique line of hair-on-cowhide shoes; they give 10% of the company’s profit back to Empower African Children, building schools in Uganda.
Doggie Style Shopping gives 10% of each product purchased to local SPCAs.
Twice As Warm is a “Wear one, Give one” company; each piece of clothing donated, one is donated back to a homeless person in need. This type of give-back is not uncommon, and it is clear that this ideology will and should trend upward.
In fact Brand Street Agency will soon launch a site dedicated to showcasing the brands we work with, and other brands doing great things.
What does the future of branding demand? How do you balance the profit maximization motive and the urge to do good?
The balance between profit and give back is not new. Some faiths ask their parishioners to tithe; in today’s marketplace, with more and more brands going direct to consumer, it makes it easier to do good. Profit margins are higher going direct to consumer which leaves brand owners the option to either put higher margins into their pockets or to share. There is nothing wrong with brands that don’t give back, but I would hypothesize that more and more brands will continue to share with those less fortunate. It’s not only good business, it’s the right thing to do.
How do you convince leaders that this is where they must go if they want to compete?
As CEO of Brand Street, I don’t want to convince any leader where to go.
Authenticity is what we seek in brand owners. We seek out brands that genuinely want to do something positive. Who believe whole heartedly in the concept that giving produces more. Strategically, I do recognize the balance of ensuring healthy returns, and profit. I have a strong acumen in business, to recognize that not all brands are in a position to give back. But if there is a willingness, every brand has the opportunity to do something positive. Those are the Brands we want to drive down our street. Pun intended.
What’s next? What trends are you seeing for the future of conscious marketing?
Marketing in general is changing. The rise of “influencers,” and celebrity to promote a brand is crucial, and ever more relevant. What I am seeing is that a large majority of celebrities are also seeking to promote conscious living. I believe that in future, brands will come together. I’m seeing at the moment many little brands coming to market seeking to make a difference; My gut tells me that a consolidation may happen where larger brands pick up and acquire small brands that are successful in their strategy and business model.
What about large companies? Are they as receptive to this movement?
Large companies are extremely receptive and most large brands already have give backs. The difference between the large and smaller brands is the level of involvement and the capacity for change. Smaller brands coming to market often times don’t have the ability or resource to push out their objectives as quickly as the larger brands; with that being said, I would likely see larger brands acquiring well marketing, authentic, give-back brands to add to their own portfolio.
What’s your advice to entrepreneurs that don’t feel they can afford to be socially conscious?
As a serial entrepreneur myself, all I can say is that brands can’t afford not to be socially conscious.
This goes beyond a marketing trend. This falls back to what we are as a whole – individual humans, who want to see other humans succeed. If you believe this, and you are a brand owner looking to make a difference, the time to do so is now.
INTERVIEW by Christian Sarkar