Do Good: Embracing Brand Citizenship to Fuel Both Purpose and Profit
Anne Bahr Thompson
AMACOM (November 2017)
How and why purpose and profit can be a winning combination for everyone involved
It is no coincidence that most of the companies annually ranked among those most highly respected and best to work for are also annually ranked among those most profitable with the greatest cap value in their NAICS segment. In Do Good, Anne Bahr Thompson explains how and why companies should “embrace citizenship to fuel both purpose and profit.” She suggests a five-step Brand Citizenship Model “that integrates doing good activities…with brand development to strengthen a brand’s reputation, foster greater loyalty, and enhance value creation. It’s a win-win-win solution [to several especially difficult problems} that mutually benefits consumers, companies, and society.”
Briefly, these are the five steps that can also be viewed as building blocks for a solid foundation:
1. Trust: Do what you say.
2. Enrichment: Make every day faster, easier, better, and more inspiring.
3. Responsibility: Treat everyone all stakeholders and the environment well.
4. Community: Bring people together through shared values and common passions.
5. Contribution: Galvanize employees and consumers to experience giving or change of habits firsthand.
The term “brand” has an interesting history. Identification of cattle is perhaps the most familiar example. Probably during the emergence of electronic media and the consequent growth of the advertising industry, the term’s meaning now has other dimensions as well as property ownership. In marketing, for example, products and services are now managed as brands as are causes and consumer experiences. I agree with Thompson that for centuries, brands were promoted in terms of their functions, features, and benefits. Price, design, durability, and of course utility (e.g. solving a problem) were among the primary issues. In recent years, hospitality (i.e. feeling welcome and appreciated), convenience, and hassle-free have also become important.
Thompson makes several key points with these observations: “People want companies they do business with not only to ‘do good’ and make the world a better place, but also to advocate on their behalf and make them feel that [by doing business with those companies] they are part of a larger community or grander mission.” I recall the companies that were among the corporate first-responders after natural disasters, setting up distribution centers for food, clothing, water, medical supplies, and even recharging smartphones or enabling calls to concerned loved ones for those without a smartphone.
What people think about a brand is important, of course, but how they feel about it is more important. Maya Angelou reminds us that there is something else that is even more important: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Organizations as well as their people must be authentic. There must be mutual respect between them and their customers but also between them and the communities in which they do business.
Anne Bahr Thompson’s Brand Citizenship Model is eminently appropriate if the objective is to create or increase demand for products and services but also for nourishing and sustaining internal and external human relationships with shared values. Today, consumers expect to, indeed are determined be associated with people who do good and do well. Both. Purpose and profit really are a winning combination for everyone involved.