A few years ago, Dove started their campaign for real beauty. For Dove it was a point of differentiation but it was more than that – a core belief that a) the cosmetics industry negatively impacts women’s (and particularly young women’s) self-esteem and b) real beauty exists in all women. It’s been enormously successful for Dove, so successful that Nivea has recently started a poor imitation of the campaign.

Here are three examples of Dove’s campaign and the latest ad from Nivea. Firstly, Dove’s 70 second ‘Evolution’ film released virally a couple of years ago, showing how fake images of models really are: (email readers click through to view)

Secondly, Dove’s ‘True Colours’ ad – a clear statement of belief without selling any product at all:

Thirdly, an advertisement from Dove on their pro-age range of products, a brilliant counterpoint to the proliferation of anti-aging products on the market:

Finally, here’s Nivea’s lacklustre me-too campaign which is currently running on Australian commercial TV:

In his book BE Brands, author Simon Hammond explains how brands with core BElief foster a desire for BElonging from consumers. If the brand exhibits BEhaviour consistent with their BElief then they can expect amazing BEhaviour in response from their consumers. Dove has achieved this to a remarkable degree by sharing a clear and original BElief. Nivea will, however, need to come up with the own BELief and share it with much greater clarity than the advertisement above.

As for your business, your BElief can be simple and does not require the investment that Dove has devoted to theirs – it just has to be yours and not faked. Simon Hammond’s advice is to be who you are, to “start with your passion … follow your real spirit, align that with the real lives of consumers and see where you end up”.