Trending the big businesses sector, the terms shared value and social impact have made themselves comfortable in many corporations. More than just heavy-weighted terms only used by businesses with the dollars, social impact strategy has rapidly become relevant to all corporations in their branding approach. In a time where all brands have access to the same marketing tools, a company’s social impact and social purpose has become more important than ever.
As consumers are continually seeking ethical brands and looking for brands that are socially responsible, companies now face the challenge of competing with one another in an entirely new sector. The latest Nielsen’s 2013 ‘Consumers Who Care’ report revealed in a survey that half of all respondents (50%) said they would be willing to reward companies that give back to society by paying more for their goods and services—up from 45 percent in 2011.
The concept of corporate social responsibility (CSR) isn’t new and as the concept continues to evolve, brands must differentiate themselves via social motivation. Establishing a strong social brand identity, one that reflects authenticity and confidence both internally and externally, is crucial in this competitive corporate sector megatrend.
As shared value practice continues to gain momentum across the globe, large corporations and businesses encounter a new area of competition. Integrating societal issues and challenges into economic value creation, creating shared value signals change for brands to position themselves in a way that moves beyond CSR. This is the next step.
The benefits of creating a brand of social impact are at large. A broader sense of social purpose opens up new opportunities for growth and profitability, while motivating and attracting employees, consumers, business partners, shareholders, and the public.
When establishing as a socially conscious brand, strategy is essential in ensuring the message is clear to consumers and identity remains firm. Getting your brand’s social purpose story straight is critical in leveraging and maintaining your identity against competing socially conscious companies.
“When effectively conveyed, a powerful purpose demonstrating shared value ought to be more effective and sustainable than a stand-alone cause effort any day, but this approach will not work for every brand and category.” – Nielsen Report
Indeed making a strong statement that clearly states your brand’s core values alleviates any confusion among consumers and employee’s about where your organisation stands. This is fundamental in establishing your organisation’s positon.
According to Deloitte’s 2013 Core Beliefs & Culture survey, 54% say their company’s purpose is not clearly conveyed to all employees. Conveying the organisation’s core values and purpose to employees, is paramount in ensuring message translation occurs and correct consumer engagement can occur. If the message translation is wrong amongst employees, organisations will face difficulties in consumer engagement. Getting your story straight alleviates any confusion and adds to the success story of your organisation in the social business marketplace.
As discovered in the Nielson report, “the share of consumers interested in companies that have implemented programs to give back to society is growing.” This goes without saying that engaging with the socially-conscious consumer should be done with an authentic voice. Establishing a voice and humanizing your brand not only creates deeper, emotional connection for consumers, but also for employees.
Shared Value Initiative’s discussion on perspectives on shared value and brand, highlights that in order to make an impact and engage with the consumer, organisations must make a connection that demonstrates how social change is relevant to the consumer. Emotional connection has to change purchasing behaviour and in a way that is measurable. Building capacity comes from strong internal processes and strategies set in place that is ready and open to the challenges that may arise. Questions will be asked, attack will inevitably arise, ensuring all internal communication is strong keeps the organisation motivated in its efforts to create social change.