When you return your brand or focus on helping the world, people will notice.
5 min read
The opinions expressed by the entrepreneur's contributors are their own.
There's a bigger cause behind your brand – not just in how consumers perceive what your brand does, but also in your ability to do good in the world. Social influence isn't every business's advantage, but when you give back your brand or focus on helping the world, people will notice. Research from Zenos 2020 Strength of Purpose found that when consumers realize that a brand or company has a strong purpose, they are six times more likely to defend or protect the company if there is ever a misstep. They are 4.5 times more likely to recommend it to their friends and family and become a champion behind it.
Despite this research, Carole shared with Cone on Purpose that only 24 percent of respondents in the company said they had a purpose embedded in their business. And while it's true that you shouldn't add purpose or social influence to make it more engaging with consumers, it's important to evaluate: what does my brand stand for? How do we help the world? How can I combine my profit with a bigger purpose? There are a few points to consider when making this assessment.
Related: 9 Social Impact Models Entrepreneurs Can Learn From
1. How can your product really help others?
Sure, your product is of great help to customers – that's why it's doing well. But there is a deeper consideration here. Can you expand the use of this product to those who need it most? This is similar to the TOMS model of thinking, where one pair of shoes is donated for every pair bought. The shoes "help" the customers who buy them. But above all, they help disadvantaged children on an international level who have no shoes.
Another strong example of an entrepreneur who uses their services forever is real estate developer Christopher Senegal, who is looking into gentrification in a neighborhood in Houston called Liberty Square. "Gentrification is always a sensitive issue in changing parts of the city," said Senegal via email. “I'm face-to-face with the issue. Not by protesting or trying to stop it, but by identifying ways to get involved in the process.” At 33, he began developing bourgeois townhouses in the neighborhood when he did saw the development patterns in the surrounding areas.
"I realized this would keep the community culture intact while improving the neighborhood and increasing taxpayers' money, which would improve schools," he said. “My goal is not only to bring back those originally from the area from the suburbs, but also to rent only from the neighborhood and build a team of successful African American professionals around me. My construction team, brokers, preferred lenders, insurance agents, and inspectors are all from the community. "
Related topics: How can social entrepreneurs sell a product and promote something at the same time?
2. How can you raise awareness of important causes?
Your social media or advertising campaigns are an ideal opportunity to show what you stand for. For example, P&G created an advertising campaign called “We See Equal”, which clarified attitudes towards gender equality in the workplace. However, they also lead the conversation – 45 percent of P&G managers and a third of their board of directors are women. Make sure you put your money where your mouth is and go beyond the ads and social media posts to show how you are actually trying to make a difference.
Kris Ruby of Ruby Media Group recently published an article on brand activism and how consumers are now "voting with their dollars." Put simply, “Consumers expect more from brands these days.” This should include actions like leveraging brand awareness for impact, engaging in social movements, and proudly displaying brand equity on websites.
Related: cause consumer marketing issues
3. How can you implement social advocacy in your business model?
How you do business is also important. Just as your ability to conduct the conversation while raising awareness is so important, you need to make sure that every step of your business practices is aligned with your purpose. One example of this is online clothing company Everlane, which is working to improve transparency about how they make their clothes, and even the details of how they calculated prices. To do this, they share “behind the scenes” recordings of their factories and production processes as well as the exact costs for the production of the individual items of clothing.
In the face of unfair conditions in many international garment factories, such a stand demonstrates Everlane's commitment to the cause and her desire to raise awareness of the right course of action. This seems difficult to implement when your business model has already worked like a well-oiled machine. However, think of little things you could do to ban unpaid internships as these inherently only apply to those with socioeconomic disadvantages or ensure your products are cruel-free and prove to customers. You watch how you do everything you do. Prove that they can trust you to stick with your bigger cause.
Ultimately, these questions should not lead you to what your customers want your brand to stand for most, but what interests you as a founder. How can you prove this through your business? The options are endless – and you don't have to be a social impact company to get started.