February 18th, 2021
When it comes to showing someone you care, you might think of buying them a present, making their favourite meal, sending a card or even putting the washing on without being asked (which can work a treat). These kinds of overt gestures are easily recognised, tangible even, and they are also very personal; the type that makes a difference.
This approach can often be hard for companies to replicate. In recent years, many brands’ USPs or products have been peppered with such terms as “organic”, “plant-based”, “ecologically friendly” and “ethically sourced”. Epithets like this have been borne out of the many issues that surround companies and corporate social responsibility (CSR). Some have found how being a responsible brand then feeds through to every aspect of their business, creating a feedback loop hewn with integrity, quality and moral rectitude.
This panglossian description may sound trite – unachievable even – but there are examples of particular companies that have been founded with this goal in mind. This is because, not only are they creating products or offering services that espouse a social consciousness or particular way of life, but also because there is a certain equity in doing so; one that aligns them with their audience, separates them from the competition, and allows them to thrive and progress as a business.
“Reputation, Reputation, Reputation! Oh, I have lost my reputation! I have lost the immortal part of myself, and what remains is bestial!”
These words, spoken with such despair by the recently demoted young soldier Cassio after a brawl in William Shakespeare’s Othello, conjure what it was in Renaissance times to be a paragon of respectability and honour. Even today it is still a sought-after asset for many companies. A business can certainly burnish its image and bolster its offerings by appearing to be ecologically progressive (“greenwashing”) or aligning itself with honourable causes or movements – the recent “Black Lives Matter” protests are a case in point. While the arguments around inclusivity, microaggressions, colour blindness and diversity need to be heard, there were many who pointed out that there was a considerable disconnect between the companies who claimed allyship with the movement, when their own board of directors were “whiteAF”.
Whatever the optics are, when a company builds up a good reputation, and consistently delivers on its promises from the sourcing, manufacturing, supplying, purchasing and after-care of its products for the good of all, it builds an irrefutable feature of trust and creates a positive image in the minds of consumers. A study by the global consulting firm, the Reputation Institute, found that a customer’s willingness to buy, recommend, work or invest in a company is driven 60% by the perception of that company, and only 40% by the perception of the products or services it sells.
This in itself goes to show how important it is for a company to have responsibility and integrity ingrained within their brand. Because without that, customers will be able to see through you and they simply will not have the same loyalty, interest and investment in you as a brand if responsibility is not at the heart of everything you do.
Written by Alistair MacQueen, Writer & Creative.
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