We all know how powerful the right brand is but, in the business world, it’s not only the product people are buying into – they are also buying into the business. What we mean by this is: their ethics and morals as well as the quality of their product or service.
The quality of the product or service is still invaluable but understanding the impact of a positive and negative brand influence for a business is paramount for the ultimate success of your business. If your business can achieve the whole spectrum of the brand, your organisation really will be sending out the right message.
Corporate and Social Responsibility (CSR)
Corporate and Social Responsibility (CSR) means taking ‘social responsibility’ for how your business affects the socio-economic climate, this includes: workplace conditions, employment practices, community affairs and environmental impact. Pollution has long since been a serious world topic and we now live in a world where naming and shaming in the media is commonplace. In this modern age, we are left worrying about the ramifications of global warming – potential clients want to know businesses are doing all they can to ensure they are reducing their carbon footprint and becoming more sustainable. Businesses and governments alike are forming alliances to monitor this and make solid commitments to reduce carbon emissions. ‘Social responsibility’, especially the wellbeing of the environment, is a big selling point in potential and existing consumers buying into a business brand.
There has been a huge interest in the damage of plastic for marine life in our oceans in recent years, driven by environmental groups and amplified by the David Attenborough series Blue Planet 2. Plastic has flowed into ocean waters miles away from land and the marine life is consuming it in place of food and this is consequently killing them. The naturalist called for a cull on the amount of plastic households are using, especially items like plastic straws and microbeads. Sir David Attenborough is one of the UK’s national treasures – he is well respected and loved by audiences worldwide – because of this, he was able to appeal to major supermarket chains (who have responded by ensuring the media they will start to cut back on plastic packaging).
Some pioneering organisations include charitable giving within their CSR policies. No one can argue with the hard work non-profit organisations have done for the world / are continuing to do for the world. Profit-making organisations are following suit in causes they are able to support. Business world leaders are active supporters and this is highly publicised in the media. They support both well-known charities and local ones (which will more than likely affect their workforce or local community). Some organisations will pay an employee to volunteer at a charity of their choice for one-to-five days a year. This is a good form of inclusive practice, as it allows the employee to identify with a cause they can identify with and believe in.
Sharing these individual and personable stories on social media and on your organisation’s websites / intranet can improve public relations – it can demonstrate to business partners, competitors, existing employees, potential employees and customers what your company believes in and that it ‘practices what it preaches’, and that its management is dedicated to charitable causes.
Word of mouth is still the best marketing strategy for products. It is estimated that if a person likes an item, they can tell up to ten people. Those ten people will then tell ten more people, equating to a hundred potential customers and so on. This is also true of a negative report via word of mouth; only, in today’s world with Twitter and Facebook, this can equate to millions. If an organisation, especially a high profile one is seen as operating irresponsibly, this will result in a negative reputation in the media, which will impact the consumer and could damage the brand permanently.
In an ever-growing consumerist world, having the right brand image is crucial. Crucial for: sales, retention, market strategy and reputation. Reputation, once damaged, is hard to rebuild. By starting from an ethical and moral standpoint, you’re starting from a winning one. Ethical practice must cascade from management down to all employees. In parallel, any company or person liaising with the business throughout the whole supply chain must maintain this brand image. Adopting ‘Corporate and Social Responsibility’ doesn’t only mean saying the right things, it means buying into the company’s ethos by implementing it and living it. Consistency of brand image and reputation is key – it is also helping to nurture our environment and ultimately our planet, paving the way for future generations to live this lifestyle without even thinking about it.