CSR schemes are standard fare these days. They’re essential and expected, but by no means do they guarantee a strong consumer response. The industry — and society as a whole — has evolved to the point to which the possession of a mission statement on its own is no longer sufficient.
On Tuesday, day two of New Metrics ’16, Carol Cone (On Purpose) led a thought-provoking discussion with panelists Wendy Salomon (Nielsen), Robert Brown (JUST Capital), Sebastian Buck (ENSO) and Grant Garrison (Goodcorps) about the business case for purpose-driven brand strategy and the findings of new research mapping out the current landscape of consumer attitudes and behavior around sustainability.
1. Choose the right narrative.
Don’t automatically assume that consumers know everything there is to know about your company’s core values, operations and the good your brand is doing in the world. Reputation is, more often than not, more about gut feeling than facts, but there is, as Salomon pointed out, an invitation for brands to tell a broader corporate story. The key to successfully transmitting this story, however, is to choose a narrative that is both authentic and resonates with a variety of different stakeholders.
Knowing which narrative will be most effective requires tapping into the values, beliefs and preferences of your stakeholders to identify what is real and meaningful. And that means asking questions like the one posed by Garrison and his team at Goodcorps: “What is on people’s minds as they are travelling their own path to finding a good life?” While the answers to such questions may not be neatly laid out in the pages of a report, the information - which also includes clues to what issues are important to consumers and what they’re doing to solve them - is most definitely out there, with social media serving as a particularly rich resource for brands.
3. Be transparent.
It may sound obvious, but providing unbiased and independent information measuring your brand’s strengths and shortcomings can go a long way in motivating consumers and repairing reputations.
“Businesses in our world have become less just and therefore measuring just behavior becomes really important today,” Brown stated. “Ninety-six percent of Americans think it’s important to measure just behavior. And not only that, they would act upon it.”