A powerful intersection of messaging and meaning is transforming the marketing landscape. As consumers demand greater social responsibility, transparency and accountability from brands, brands are making increasingly earnest efforts to be more meaningful to their customers lives on the basis of the good they do. But this is not without its perils.

Commanding consumer attention is hard enough with so many devices, platforms and social networks demanding attention. Seizing that attention is even tougher because you have to compete on both levels.

It’s not enough for brands to commit to greater sustainability or contribute to a cause in alignment with its core values if that effort fails to resonate with their customers. Some might argue that this shift in behavior is sufficient of itself, but that shift will be short-lived if the Board, executives and marketing department can’t substantiate and quantify its bottom line value to the company.

So as brands become more purposeful, and non–profits become more sophisticated marketers, there is growing pressure on both parties to tell their stories in ways that motivate sharing.

A great example is the recent ‘UnHate’ campaign (at top) by Benetton and ad agency 72 and Sunny which enlisted and inspired consumers to create their own provocative images of UnHate. While on the non-profit side, charity: water’s ‘Water Forward’ campaign (below) built participation into its strategy by inspiring individuals to donate on each other’s behalf and rewarding them with inclusion in the Water Forward books.

While brands have different sized budgets, all have permission to tell their purposeful stories in ways that capture attention and inspire sharing. To do anything less is to waste the heartfelt effort put into meaningful work that’s being done, and to lose the opportunity of scaling its impact through consumer support.

It’s a high bar indeed, to be highly purposeful and creative, but such are the demands of a crowded and connected media landscape. For inspiration, here is a link to many of this year’s Cannes Advertising Festival digital and social winners, with videos explaining both their architecture, tactics and results.

What’s one way you could make your campaign more creative? What’s one new channel you could use to expand consumer engagement?