Choosing to Challenge: A Branding Perspective

Two pairs of feet standing on a pavement in front of words that read ‘passion led us here.’

International Women’s Day calls on us every year to come together and challenge inequalities, debunk stigmas and celebrate the wonderful women all around us. We remember those who have stood up to oppression and celebrate leading women in various industries, but maybe more recently, we’re also able to stop to admire the creative campaigns that wonderfully express the power of women.

So, since this year’s theme for International Women’s Day is Choose to Challenge, we thought we would applaud some campaigns over the years that have challenged stereotypes, stigma, and celebrated women for what they really are — downright awesome.

PayPal — #BalanceforBetter

We love celebrating the businesswomen who made it big and are paving the way for other’s in their industry, but when we see success we often forget the losses. In 2019, PayPal sits down with leading businesswomen to discuss all the factors that female entrepreneurs have to face when venturing into a business, highlighting the importance to recognise and respect the roadblocks that are faced along the way as a woman. PayPal not only creates relatable content to businesswomen around the world, but they also position their brand as a key player in rectifying these roadblocks by displaying full pay equity in terms of salary for both men and women.

Barbie — The Dream Gap

This 2018 campaign stems from the reality that girls nurture beliefs that they’re not as capable or as smart as boys. Barbie deemed the ‘dream gap’ as something comes between girls and their full potential as a result of their self-limiting beliefs, and set out to educate and inspire their young audience to see endless opportunities. Along with a video, Barbie created a range of dolls modelled after inspirational women around the world from different fields of work to further emphasise their point. Not only this, but Barbie uses its target market to talk to its target market — kids. Because who are children going to listen to more than their peers? Barbie understood how to talk to their audience and paved a way to position their brand identity as one that empowers girls around the world.

Always — #LikeaGirl

What does like a girl actually mean to you? Why should it have connotations of weak and fragile? When did this phrase become an insult? In 2014, Always really seemed to hit the mark and make us reconsider this phrase, challenging the notion that running, throwing and fighting like a girl has negative connotations. As one girl expertly explains in the video — running like a girl means running as fast as you can. The campaign effortlessly flips the script and makes this phrase one of empowerment and pride (as it should be).

Lean In — #BanBossy

Stubborn. Pushy. Bossy. These words sound familiar to you? Labels like these often get misused in place of ambitious, driven and confident when it comes to women. The result being that women become less interested in being strong leaders. Lean In’s 2014 campaign talks to major players in various industries, and some famous faces, about the effect of these seemingly harmless labels and asks us to ban the word ‘bossy.’ Simple yet effective. Because at the end of the day, you’re not bossy. You’re the boss.

The Bottom Line

These campaigns have all successfully had their take on the issues surrounding gender equality, but they all have things in common: they knew what they wanted to say, they knew how they wanted to say it and they made a statement. There’s a saying floating around that “if a brand isn’t making a statement, then they’re not really saying anything at all” which really gets you thinking. Brands have so much power over their messaging, so it’s important to get it right, but it’s also important to say something meaningful.

It doesn’t have to be a multi-million pound campaign with glitter and lights, but brands have a huge opportunity to position themselves in a way that influences the story and changes the narrative (and look pretty cool while doing it).

Transforming brands through storytelling and digital experiences -

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