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« Peanut Butter and Corporate Responsibility | Designing Brand Experiences »

May 21, 2007

4 Types of Corporate Responsibility Brands

Posted by Shawn Stewart | Filed under: Philosophy

There was an interesting article written by Solitaire Townsend of the UK communications firm Futerra posted on the Ethical Corporation web site on May 7th. Solitaire's article touches on the importance of your corporate responsibility flowing hand in hand with your business strategy, something we mentioned in a post on last friday.

The article identifies four kinds of companies that exist when it comes to corporate responsibility, or corporate social responsibility, as it's called in the UK, those kinds of companies are:

The CSR brand - This is for you if your market research shows that corporate responsibility is a key driver of brand preference with your customers. From the Body Shop onwards, many niche players have been CSR brands, and the signals are that we will see more of them. If you have the right business model and the right customers then your brand promise becomes a responsibility promise.

The "bit of CSR" brand - Perhaps CSR can be part of your brand in selected targeted ways: through sub-brands, strategic partnerships and with specific customers. You will take this approach when your market research shows that corporate responsibility does drive preference, but your company cannot live up to a full CSR brand, or when only a sub-segment of your customers place significant value on responsible business practices.

The CSR shy brand - For many companies corporate responsibility has been part of the company's philosophy and practice but not visible to consumers, either because the company is not ready to integrate responsibility into the brand or because the customer has been shown not to care.

The greenwash brand - This one is easy. You do not actually undertake any core corporate responsibility activities but build it into your brand promise anyway. We all enjoy watching what happens next.

Understanding where you're at on this list is important to understanding what cause marketing could and should look like for your business. It's good food for thought.

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