Do Good

Embracing Brand Citizenship to Fuel Both Purpose and Profit

 Do Good

Author: Anne Bahr Thompson
Pub Date: November 2017
Print Edition: $27.95
Print ISBN: 9780814438398
Page Count: 288
Format: Hardback
e-Book ISBN: 9780814438404

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Organizations of all sizes are recognizing that having a greater "purpose" than just earning a profit matters more than ever, and studies from major consultancies continue to demonstrate this. A 2014 EY/Harvard Business Review Analytic Services global research study, The Business Case for Purpose, found that:

87 percent of business executives believe companies perform best over time if their purpose goes beyond profit.

89 percent say that purpose-driven organizations encourage greater employee satisfaction, 85 percent better customer advocacy, and 81 percent higher-quality products and services.

80 percent of business executives state that business purpose increases customer loyalty.

Yet, despite nearly 90 percent of executives saying they understand the importance of benefiting local and global society, only 46 percent of them say that their purpose informs operational or strategic decision making.

A 2010 CECP: The CEO Force for Good report, Shaping the Future: Solving Social Problems Through Business, based on McKinsey & Company research, also noted that 77 percent of CEOs believe embedding social engagement into the business and organizational structure is the most important action to take to prepare for 2020. Further, according to a Nielsen 2014 report, Doing Well by Doing Good, 55 percent of consumers are willing to pay extra for products and services from companies committed to having a positive social and environmental impact.

Although a majority of business leaders have accepted--to varying degrees--that they have a responsibility to help create a better, more sustainable future, they have not necessarily figured out how to do so effectively. For many, the focus has been on looking good rather than on actually integrating the elements of doing good into the DNA of their organizations. Often, the goal of doing the right thing is seen as a cost of doing business, not a way of doing business. Although social responsibility has grown in importance as a factor in corporate reputation, a brand purpose centered on doing good is still largely perceived as more specialized and relevant for brands designed around social entrepreneurship or focused on niche target consumers.

As I have listened to people participating in CultureQ research, I have heard the call for brands to do good on their behalf growing below the surface of all their decisions. The unprecedented level of transparency that social media has generated is placing great power in the hands of customers and employees. And the rise of populism that has continued to surface in different manifestations since the Occupy Wall Street movement is calling for more equity and fairness in business decision making.

With this Outside-In orientation, people are increasingly looking to buy great products and services from companies that have ethical operations, do great things for the world, and advocate for the things they care about. Ultimately, people are demanding greater value for their dollar than ever before, and businesses must holistically align brand development with sustainability and corporate citizenship initiatives. What's most interesting about the shift is the fact that customers and employees--in other words, people themselves--not marketers or advertising agencies are driving the change. Clearly, though, marketers and advertisers have a role to play in making the change happen--and at a faster rate. The concept of Brand Citizenship is reflective of our flattened world, where greater consumer--corporate collaboration can deliver significant benefits to customers, corporations, employees, suppliers, other stakeholders, and society alike. Until now, as long as companies delivered on shareholder value, investment and growth generally continued every quarter. The peak of the economic crisis in 2008, however, accelerated a nascent trend and emphasized a shift from shareholder to stakeholder value. Brand Citizenship champions this notion by embracing profitability and responsibility as harmonious concepts.

Placing a greater purpose at the center of a brand is the starting point, followed by aligning the benefits a brand delivers to individual customers with how it treats employees, suppliers, and the environment, and with the way it helps the world.


The qualitative and quantitative studies we conducted over three years as part of CultureQ research led me to see something unexpected: People want brands that start with a ME-First orientation to stretch and span themselves across a ME-to-WE continuum. Brands must first deliver value, functionally and emotionally, to individual consumers (ME) and then, depending on the brand's purpose, move outward toward delivering added value to society: the collective WE.

Brand Citizenship isn't about a company sacrificing to better the world. Nor is it boasting about doing good. It's a five-step model that integrates doing good activities--such as fair employee policies, corporate and social responsibility (CSR), sustainability programs, ethical sourcing, and charitable giving--with brand development to strengthen a brand's reputation, foster greater loyalty, and enhance value creation. It's a win-win-win solution that mutually benefits consumers, companies, and society.

Excerpted from DO GOOD: Embracing Brand Citizenship to Fuel Both Purpose and Profit by Anne Bahr Thompson. Copyright © 2018 Anne Bahr Thompson. Published by AMACOM Books, a division of American Management Association, New York, NY. Used with permission.

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