Corporate citizenship isn’t dead. It’s hanging out somewhere with cause marketing and CSR, reminiscing about the old days. When creating goodwill alone was enough. And demand for ROI sat in awkward silence.
Actually, sometime between the social media revolution and the global financial crisis, it grew up, married sales and behavioral change, and moved on to produce amazing, world-changing outcomes.
Today, shared impact – the magic melding of higher purpose with commercial imperative – is elevating communications to its full and glorious power.
It is statistically proven that brands that fuse purpose with profits:
- enjoy greater customer love and loyalty
- outsell their category competitors
- outperform the stock market and thereby increase shareholder return
- engender better employee retention (and it’s a safe bet they are more motivated and productive, too)
Yet, a mere fraction of brands are perceived to be meeting any real social need. There is much more work to be done.
The enlightened are just as aggressively focused on a higher order to improve lives as they are on business benchmarks.
They don’t stop at the big idea. They keep pushing for the big idea that also makes the world a better place. How you can, too:
- Help everyday heroes. Target audiences are individuals linked by real-life needs and common societal challenges that can be satisfied with creative services that simultaneously boost sales.
- Case in point: Through its website, J&J cultivates the designation and digital mapping of private nursing spaces in Shanghai offices for “work-and-pump moms”; J&J’s online retail sales jump in tandem.
- Be life changing. It’s not about what a product or service does, but how it changes lives to be healthier, safer, gentler to the environment, more equitable, accessible or affordable, and so on.
- Case in point: In India, where rural hygiene standards are low and diarrhea claims the lives of 1.1 million children annually, Lifebuoy provided hot stamps for the millions of ‘roti’ pancakes consumed at the ‘Kumbh mela’ festival with the message, “Have you washed your hands with Lifebuoy?”, reinforced by pop-up kiosks with sinks and soap as part of a larger campaign that helped Lifebuoy’s India market share hit a record high.
- Get personal. People have to care before they will share, and better yet: engage. People are moved by what matters to them.
- Case in point: After Japan’s epic 2011 earthquake, importance of caring for the environment took on new meaning among the younger generation; Toyota hosted environmental clean-up events nationwide and the droves of young volunteers who signed up at Toyota dealerships made its AQUA hybrid Japan’s No. 1 selling car that year.
- Tap a nerve. Revealing human truths makes emotional connections that a higher purpose can intensify with the potential of driving real, lasting cultural shifts.
- Case in point: The Always #LikeAGirl campaign from our client P&G that calls out underlying esteem killers and empowers girls everywhere, went off the charts in views, shares and likes, and has proved to be a powerful business builder for the brand.
- Go round and repurpose. Circular and shared economies present fresh revenue streams for brands to create a meaningful, innovative role in these virtual cycles of success.
- Case in point: Patagonia asked customers to buy used when possible and made pre-owned apparel available on their own online store and eBay; as a result, overall sales spiked by nearly a third.
Creating shared value defines brands and builds their legacies with a higher order. It also defines the people who bring these campaigns to life.
From the budget holders to the brainstormers, those of us bound by a fascination and passion for communications share respect for the power it can wield, and must use this influence wisely. Every assignment presents opportunities to make a real difference in more ways than one.
As societal problem solvers and engineers of behavioral change, we have a responsibility to keep our brands’ compass pointed in the direction of progress. Let’s all go forth and share value.