By Rachael Hazen
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is when a business aligns its goals to better society at large and the environment. CSR is important for businesses because consumers like brands that make our world a better place to live. When companies are transparent and represent as well as act on all things good, we trust them and see value in them.
Current trends show that consumers are looking into the values of a company and what it represents before making a purchase. Shoppers are choosing to engage with companies who commit to CSR and ethically contribute to society. Because of this, corporate social responsibility has become an inescapable priority for businesses around the globe.
CSR can set a company apart and create a sustainable advantage that elevates brand equity.
Brand equity develops because of people’s experiences with the brand. Steve Hoeffler and Kevin Keller, business and marketing professors at Vanderbilt and Dartmouth, describe six ways in which corporate social responsibility can help an organization build brand equity: 1. Building brand awareness, 2. Enhancing brand image, 3. Establishing brand credibility, 4. Evoking brand feelings, 5. Creating a sense of brand community, and 6. Eliciting brand engagement.
So, how should you go about strengthening your brand’s CSR?
CSR must align with Core Values & Mission
CSR strategy must be woven into the DNA of a company for it to work effectively. This means that CSR needs to align with the mission of an organization and have a clear voice throughout all marketing efforts.
You must DO good BEFORE communicating it
If a company promotes CSR without bringing social good into the world, this could tarnish their reputation and brand equity would quickly diminish.
The other side of the spectrum must be noted – if a business is completely avoiding CSR, their success is not secure. People like brands who DO good.
Consistent CSR Dialogue Across Company’s Platforms
Branding Strategy Insider suggests a shift in dialogue within a company as consumer demand for ethically responsible brands continues to rise.
For this company-wide shift, the following questions must be answered:
1. Where do our responsibilities lie? (scope) 2. Who are we responsible to? (stakeholders) 3. What are we responsible for? (actions) 4. How responsible have we been? (analysis) 5. What can all of us do to create positive change? (community-sourced innovation)
Once these questions are realized, they must be communicated consistently across a company’s platforms – from the About section on the company website to your Instagram social media page.
The main reason Corporate Social Responsibility enhances brand equity is largely psychological. Timothy Creel, author of How CSR Influences Brand Equity, says that positive feelings are related to social approval and self-respect.
Brands that evoke positive feelings make customers feel better about themselves.
Overall, your audience wants to be a part of your brand’s story. These stories start with the very first impression someone has with your company and continue throughout their interactions with it. You must make sure that your brand’s story is one that captivates people so they want to take part in your journey. They will then share their own version of it through their words. Social platforms are a place to unite your audience and encourage others to join your company’s family.
Alberto Jaen, Creative Director at Plus 305 explains: “We are living in a time where the consumer is the center of our marketing strategies. Consumers want to be happy and feel good about their purchases while sharing those thoughts on social media platforms. This storytelling makes the purchase feel like an intimate experience with purpose. Positive core beliefs and actively participating in social good connects your products, services, or experiences to your audience in a powerful way, potentially creating a positive ripple-effect.”
When you strengthen the relationship between corporate social responsibility and your end-customer, you create a lasting experience that yields profitable and sustainable results.