It’s pretty much universally accepted that the world is flat when it comes to commerce, which means that the way customers find us (your company, our company, pretty much every company) has changed dramatically. Because now those customers have a much wider choice of who to work with. They can work with you, me or a company across the country or halfway around the globe.
That’s a lot of choice.
And how they make that choice has changed, too. In the B2B world, companies have always tried to work with companies that shared their mindset, but now they’re digging deeper. Today, companies want to work with companies that share the same values and beliefs. This fact means that if they consider your company one that is trying to make a positive impact beyond just maximizing profits—if they believe that your company doesn’t simply have a brain but also has a soul—they’re more likely to want to work with you.
Corporate social responsibility and your brand
And this is where corporate social responsibility (CSR) dovetails with your brand and your marketing. Please remember our mantra here—your brand is not your logo. It’s your story. It’s your personality. It’s your values. It’s what you stand for. The logo is merely the visual manifestation of these things. The brand is who you are, beneath the corporate skin. Embracing CSR is a way of demonstrating your company’s commitment to things beyond the pure finances of business.
CSR, meanwhile, is an ethical management concept that seeks to integrate social, economic and environmental concerns along with the concerns of the business. It’s the organization’s obligation to things bigger than its bottom line. Ideally, every company would be committed to CSR. We’re not holding our breath, but there are plenty of advantages that smart companies are realizing. CSR can improve a company’s image, boost PR efforts and increase employee engagement. According to research, customers say they’d pay up to 11% more for products from socially responsible companies.
That’s not why you should embrace CSR, but it does help to make the case to a C-suite focused on profit margin. CSR can be a key component of your management strategy; it’s an effort to have a positive impact on society and establish a good reputation as you carry out their normal business operations.
Here at Scribewise, we believe that your story is your strategy, so by the transitive property of business, CSR is a key component in your brand. (No, I didn’t do well in high school geometry either, but you get what we’re saying.) Your commitment to social responsibility—if you have it—is part of the DNA inside the company, and therefore it is, by definition, infused into your brand.
Why it works
The reason CSR helps your brand is simple: As we mentioned, people—ya know, like your customers—want to do business with people and companies they trust. If your organization is committed to the triple bottom line–profit, people and planet–it sends a clear signal that you’re trying to be a force for good.
Should you embrace CSR simply as a way to burnish your brand? No. If your CSR initiative is purely about promoting your brand, it’s probably going to ring hollow. People have a sixth sense for these things; they can tell when we aren’t being genuine, and they’re pretty doggone cynical when it comes to evaluating a brand’s motivations. Intent matters. You need to be true to who you are as a company.
Can you get ridiculous? Absolutely. You need some self-awareness. If you try to position your company as the purpose-driven paper towel brand, people will laugh at you (well, that piece is intended for laughs, but you get the idea).
If giving back is part of your company’s raison d’etre, embrace it. Talk about it. Empower employees to do more. After all, in the grand scheme, it’s the right thing to do. And it’s probably good for business.
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