Why Be a Good Business?
It is not a good time to be an unethical brand.
It won’t have escaped your notice that people’s expectations of brands have sky rocketed and not only do they expect them to sell good products and provide excellent customer service, they also expect them to show leadership and behave ethically, both internally to to their staff and suppliers and out in the wider world. This has transformed itself into brand expectations and people in different niches have named the bits they were seeing or were working on. ESG (Environment, Social, Governance) profiling in the financial world. Sustainability and resilient supply chains in manufacturing. Meaningful purchasing in retail. Humaning in marketing. The Kindness Economy and Betterment. Social advocacy. Corporate responsibility, ethics and compliance. Social responsibility, brand activism and issue fluidity in the wider business community.
All are essential elements of the greater whole – Social Goodness.
The world around us isn’t exactly dying, more being murdered by companies (especially corporations) and governments. People are anxious and scared and are coming together to make things better – and are particularly looking at brands. Not just to stop them from making things worse, but expecting them to step up and help solve the issues in every area, from environmental and sustainability to society and governance.
Why? Because we are fighting for our lives here, and we have a world to save.
Google have reported a massive uptick in searches about stopping climate change, for example, and people are increasingly choosing to avoid packaging, reduce their carbon footprint, reuse plastic, buy locally, plant trees and vegetables, and eat seasonally. They are making increasingly informed choices about where they can ethically spend and invest their money, as well as using their time and energy to ensure brands that do the right thing are rewarded. They are using social media to influence corporate policy.
Not just that, a majority of them are also persuading other people to boycott bad brands.
2020 marked a huge turning point for this, when the power switched from brands to people. Businesses that weren’t already focusing on ethics and good business as a number one priority before 2020 found themselves facing an increasingly hostile community throughout the first year of the covid pandemic, or were just completely ignored. Those that tried to hitch a free ride on the trend were attacked and ridiculed and saw their sales and profits plummet.
In fact, even having a tenuous link between actions and brand values, or not being consistent across the board, is enough to put a brand on shaky ground even if it is doing good things. This increased the pressure on brands to prove their Social Goodness and visibly demonstrate they are not ‘woke- or ‘greenwashing’.
The only way to prevent the kind of uproar and pushback so many brands are seeing and experiencing, is to enact a culture change from the top down.
Most people don’t care about your brand
The only way to make them care is if it becomes meaningful to them, to the point where they consider your brand’s values to be in synch with their own ON TOP of providing a good product and service.
In How Brands Grow Byron Sharp says that much of what we call ‘brand loyalty’ is simply habit, convenience, mild satisfaction, or easy physical and mental availability. Most people buy within a niche as if the different brands are all interchangeable… because mostly they are. Most brands are much of a muchness to most people. Sharp says that the lack of care for a brand’s existence is about 50-60%.
Meaningful Brands go further, saying their research finds that most people couldn’t care less if 80% of brands were to disappear overnight.
Meaningful Brands also say that 56% of brand content is meaningless, and that means people ignore it. So what makes a brand’s content meaningful? People look for six things: it has to inspire, entertain, educate, help, inform, or reward. Meaningful Brands also found that 76% of people expect brands to contribute to their quality of life and wellbeing, that is, encapsulate Social Goodness.
When a brand is meaningful to a person, then the purchase intent goes up 24%, and the repurchase intent rises 41%. Advocacy also increases, which means that people tell other people in their immediate circle how great you are, a key part of the ‘ultimate score’ a brand’s Net Promoter Score (NPS).
It has become crystal clear that business leaders can’t hide if they want to, and brands are consequently facing a clear choice. It’s either embed Social Goodness in your DNA or in a very short period of time you won’t have a world to worry about, let alone a brand.