3 MINUTE READ | May 20, 2017
Positive Imagery: The Power of Standing for Something
The ability to control the public image of one’s brand can often be the difference between capitalizing on a market opportunity or allowing it to slip by. No matter how great the product or useful the service, perception is the only reality in advertising, and often to business in general. For that reason alone, the importance of being a socially conscious company cannot be understated. Now, more than ever, customers want to patronize companies that they believe in, and that stand for something other than the bottom line.
A prime example of this, as outlined in the South by Southwest session “How Brands Do Well By Doing Good”, is Kickstarter. While it functions as a pseudo-investing service for new businesses looking for startup cash, its core values are all centered on public benefit. This manifests both in its market proposition, which is built on a trust and belief in companies by their consumers, as well as the way they allocate their profits. Kickstarter, which is now officially incorporated as a PBC (public benefit corporation), allocates 5% of its annual post-tax profits to arts education and organizations fighting inequality.
However, even companies that have not taken the great strides that Kickstarter has can still contribute in their own unique ways. Airbnb, for example, has partnered with close to a dozen different NPOs since 2012, both with monetary aid and by providing living/working spaces to the public service organizations with which they partner. This has not only changed the lives of the people that these organizations benefit, but it has also driven greater awareness to the business itself. Kim Rubey, global head of social impact and philanthropy, mentioned that many of the people that have been positively impacted by their partnership went on to become hosts or customers themselves.
This trend of socially conscious businesses has unlocked the potential for entirely new enterprises that can help companies become more socially conscious, without appearing phony or opportunistic. Among these is GOOD Inc., a global media brand and social impact company with the mission to help people and organizations to become forces for good in the world. Ben Goldhirsh, the co-founder and chairman of GOOD, stated that many companies come to GOOD with pure intentions to become a force for change, and realize later the multiplying effect that this can have on building a consumer base. In his words, “it is better to have 100 people love you than 100,000 people sort of like you.” This group of devoted customers can carry a company through hard times, based on socially impactful decisions that the business made years prior.
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The success of company’s like GOOD and Upworthy are a clear indication that the way forward is through social impact. A company that does not become seized of the matter of improving the lives of others could find itself losing its core following to one that does. So, if perception is reality, then it also stands to reason that changing the reality of a brand’s social consciousness can also fundamentally change perception. And perceptions, once they stick, typically stick for good.
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