Beyond the transaction/marketing driven model of brand building, enlightened brand owners are building the value of their brands around aligning social good with business good. These organizations realize the foundation of their competitive advantage will be based on a higher purpose – social good.
In the marketing driven model of brand building, the focus is on awareness and communicating the better features of the product. Consumers and customers simply exchanged money for a product/service. When the performance of the product matched up to customer expectations the brand promise was delivered… end of story.
That’s no longer good enough for consumers/customers today.
Apple’s on-going saga of complicity in the harmful working conditions in the Chinese supplier factories is a recent example of the deeper scrutiny placed on brand owners. Apple’s circumstances makes the point clear– consumers not only consider the products you make, or the services you provide, they’re also looking carefully at your entire value chain–where your stuff is made, what it’s made from, how it impacts the environment, the community, who your suppliers are, how well employees are treated. Consumers are scrutinizing the value of brands based on the social good they do in the world.
Brand owners must ask themselves “how can we align our business good with social good”? The answer to that question needs to come from the very top of the organization, not from marketing or PR departments. The answer to this question must be the very reason or purpose the business enterprise exits in the first place. The relationship of social good and business good must be the core value proposition of the enterprise–above moneymaking.
Breaking down the barriers within organizations.
Traditionally the siloed nature of organizations would have one group of people thinking and acting on corporate philanthropy and community, while other groups are developing and marketing products with the greatest profit margins possible. These functions rarely if ever are informed by a vision to maximize social and business good. Business good and social good being “functions” rather than a unifying principal of existence.
Enlightened brand owners are breaking down the functional barriers within their organization and converging these interests into a common social purpose driven brand value.
Patagonia is extraordinary in this regard. The higher purpose of Patagonia is not to make and market more technically driven outer wear, rather Patagonia’s leadership has aligned their core values and mission around stewardship and sustainability of the planet as a whole. They are a leading voice and advocate for this greater good and it is embedded into their brand promise. This is not a brand strategy, or clever marketing– it’s who they are as an enterprise. It’s the reason their employees come to work everyday. It’s also the reason the brand has unquestioned relevant differentiation in customers minds and competitive advantage at a premium price points in the marketplace. Patagonia is a brand that represents social good and business good as two sides of the same coin.
The deeper principal that brands like Patagonia are based on is simple– social good is highly valued (relevant) to its customers and drives business performance (competitive advantage). Patagonia walks the talk everyday. For Patagonia, there’s no difference between advocating for greater sustainability and stewardship of the planet and making money.
Doing good is not good enough.
Doing social good simply for a business gain is a fool’s errand. It’s not enough to “do good”. The aspects and activities of social good is not something added to the brand’s purpose–it is the purpose! Enlightened brand owners are employing the brand strategy principal of relevant differentiation to align social good and business good.
Three critical factors need to seamlessly fit together to make your brand’s social purpose have relevant differentiation.
First, you need to know without question, what the brand is the very best at doing.
Secondly, whatever the brand is best at must be something customers really care about.
Finally, whatever the brand is best at, and highly value by customers, must serve the good of the greater community (planet) at large.
With these insights brand owners and managers can more easily identify activities of social good that their brands can align with in unique and authentic ways.
Doing good is good business.