It’s no longer enough for businesses to focus solely on their bottom line. Many still do, but today’s consumers are wanting and expecting more when they reach into their pockets to make a purchase.
As part of a brand strategy, it’s important to explore what kind of brand impact it wants to make. Are they interested in finding authentic ways to contribute to the greater good?
This post will look at how that works, including examples from socially responsible brands that are thriving. Finally, we’ll see how brands should approach their own exploration of how they can make a positive impact on the world.
Profit or Social Good – Can You Have Both?
Business implies profit. There’s nothing wrong with that; it’s how companies operate. Without profit, they’d fold. However, profit is only part of a much bigger purpose.
A growing number of socially responsible businesses are thriving financially as they also pave the way for a better world. They tap into a higher purpose by using their visibility, voice, and power to bring attention and funds to help the collective.
As this trend grows, it’s showing that today’s consumers actively seek out brands that have social responsibility as part of their mission. This in turn benefits the company’s bottom line and sets up a sustainable model, which enables them to help even more.
Types of Brand Impact
It doesn’t take millions of dollars to make a big impact. Sure, some companies throw tons of money at a charity and then take glossy photos for their marketing materials. That’s one way, but let’s look at how brands large and small are finding innovative ways to significantly contribute.
Some brands organize local clean-ups or volunteer days. Others donate unused products, materials, or food to local organizations that have distribution channels already in place.
For a company that doesn’t yet have a huge profit margin, it might be more beneficial to take excellent care of its employees. Retaining happy workers means contributing to the economy, which benefits everyone. Offering good health insurance and flex-time might have a positive ripple effect on children and extended families.
When a brand is known for a particular item, it can be effective for them to donate a product to someone in need each time another one is purchased. Customers can clearly see that their purchase is directly helping another person. With all the choices on the market, this could very well be the deciding factor when shopping.
A pioneer of social responsibility, Toms Shoes has used this model to donate some 95 million pairs of shoes to children and adults around the world. That’s a lot of warm feet, but it has also likely enabled countless people to get jobs and ultimately support their families.
With the climate change crisis, many brands are choosing to have an impact by creating sustainable products, packaging, and manufacturing processes. Millennials and Gen Z-ers are scrupulous about giving their business to environmentally responsible brands.
Outdoor gear giant Patagonia has been at the forefront of the environmental movement for decades, not only in their manufacturing but also by donating 1% of sales to their charity – that’s a whopping $20 million to environmental organizations around the world.
One look at Patagonia’s website will confirm that saving the environment is baked into their brand, not an empty gesture or marketing ploy. Their customers are loyal and just as dedicated to the cause, posting selfies with their gear as they explore the lands they’re helping to save.
What Impact Does the Brand Want to Make?
In a branding workshop, it’s appropriate to open the discussion of whether the brand is interested in expanding its leadership and extending its reach to contribute to making the world a better place. In other words, what kind of impact do they want to make?
This might be a confusing question to a business owner who is focused on income and expenses. However, it’s not so overwhelming when you revisit the brand’s beliefs and values.
Reviewing these will likely lead to authentic and positive brand impact. If a brand value is “nourishing,” for example, it might make sense to support a food security organization. This type of natural connection cements the brand’s commitment to making an impact on its foundation.
It can be very exciting for a brand to think about how it could contribute to the wider world. This enthusiasm is also part of an authentic and successful brand, one that consumers will notice, appreciate, and reward.