The concept that a brand can have an impact on the way people live their lives sounds rather obvious in some regards. Items like dishwashers, vacuum cleaners and even mobile phones, once seen as life-changing luxuries, are now modern-day necessities. But which brands and products are revolutionising your day-to-day life at the moment?

Here’s a little run-down of some of the ways brands are instigating social change.

Sharing economies

Uber in London… and the taxi industry:

The smartphone is not only allowing you to see where the nearest driver is to you through the Uber app, but it’s also allowing them to navigate to your destination and calculate the cost. This circumvents all of the red tape and learning that is behind the wheel of a black cab in London. Outlined in this Daily Mail article, Black cab drivers responded in kind to Uber’s rather dramatic rise to prominence in the Big Smoke by grinding the centre to a big old halt.

The opinions of the consumer should surely win out over the oppressive and regressive force of the old school and established order, right? Yes, as The Week points out, they can. Uber recently won in the courts to avoid a lot of proposed regulatory clamp-downs. It turns out they’re not breaking the law in this case and the sharing economy is here to stay:

“Uber is typical of what’s becoming known as the sharing economy – also known as ‘collaborative consumption’ or the ‘peer economy’.”

Destination – Airbnb:

This app is currently really upsetting big hotel chains and responding to incidents immediately, while making record profits and infinitely expanding listings and country bases.

So what is it about sharing economies that make so much sense and have made the likes of Airbnb, Uber, Gumtree, Openrent, and Spareroom so popular? It could be the cult-like nature of the brand as stated in Wired’s piece, or the simplicity of their concepts as laid out by The Week:

“You can go into business renting your ladder, a seat in your car, your off-street parking place, a desk in your garden shed to someone around the corner and the space by the radiator in the utility room to his or her dog.”

It’s all about communication channels and making brands as accessible and, often, as fun as possible. - Highlight to share -

However, they are coming up against zoning laws and restrictions in places like Richmond, Virginia. The legality of Airbnb was of critical importance to residents and visitors alike during the UCI Road Cycling World Championships, as WTVR reported.

And Airbnb faced allegations that they were forcing rent up and landlords to evict locals in favour of visitors. But as Time reported, they fought back with data. Says Airbnb spokesperson Christopher Nulty:

“This report makes clear that the vast majority of Airbnb hosts are regular San Franciscans sharing the home in which they live and using the money they earn to pay the bills and make ends meet.”

The selfies, etc.

So the selfie has value! It took a far less pessimistic and disgruntled mind than most to see the value, but see it they did. First it was a social trend and now it may be a tool for social change. It’s all about communication channels and making brands as accessible and often, as fun as possible, according to iMedia Connection.

GoPro going strong:

Let’s face it, the daddy of the selfie is surely the GoPro, and its marketing strategy (the envy of many other companies) utilises this status and that of the association with life-affirming, often high adrenaline, inspirational activities to bring together a collective experience. The Content Marketing Institute points out how you can learn from the GoPro model.

It seems as though people are discovering afresh how much they love to film themselves and their lives as they unfold. The GoPro allows you to capture shots previously impossible.

Some of the best uses in terms of promoting the positive aspects of humanity have come from campaigns launched off the back of footage captured by road-users. When a woman was pushed off of her bike in to traffic by a rather aggressive pedestrian in East London, the pressure of social media, when the footage went viral, led to the man handing himself into police as recorded in The Guardian.

Charity begins at…

As we’re talking about the ‘right’ thing to do it seems only prudent to mention the – possibly not all that altruistic – cases of business associating with charities. It’s all about Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) says the Financial Times.

If you’re looking to spend some money and have a good conscience whilst doing it, this handy article from Forbes points out some of the best brands out there supporting Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Partnering up with young people in sport and sporting activities, in general, is great. - Highlight to share -

If charity doesn’t draw in the punters then there’s nothing better than sport…

Partnering up with young people in sport and sporting activities, in general, is great for CSR and it just so happens to benefit those involved too (read this study from ProSmart Sports).

Brands instigate social change in so many varying ways and often with such subtlety that it goes relatively unnoticed until you catch yourself saying ‘Google it’ to someone when you can’t remember the name of that guy, in that film, you know the one.

It’s said that it is a shame that people don’t just wonder about things anymore – that Google has killed off memory in younger generations – but, in many ways, people have changed to expect nothing less than to know – and know within a couple of seconds at the most. Just in the same way that when Uber doesn’t have cars in Bristol, you start to question how you might actually get anywhere.

Brands change us.

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Could a selfie change the world?