Brand Image and the Importance of CSR in the New Digital Age Part 1

Our latest series on the importance of Corporate Social Responsibility will be covering the the benefits of CSR and how you can start a program at your own company. Join us over the next month as we reveal how CSR helps businesses thrive.

cSR pie graph

By Matt Gallagher

In an increasingly social media driven world, brand image is everything. Reputations are earned and burned virally in the new digital age. From grandparents to moms to high school students, everyone has a social media voice, and they will use it to the benefit or determent of a business or brand with more resonance than a highway billboard or sometimes even a $4 million Super Bowl spotlight ad can hope for. More transparent and relevant than ever before, who you are as a business is just as important as what you sell or do.

The All Too Unrecognized Payback of CSR

This series will explain why a Corporate Social Responsibility Plan is just as critical as any part of your advertising budget and what you can do to develop one. Often misunderstood as a drain on resources, CSR actually provides a way to win new business, cement customer and employee loyalty, differentiate in a clouded market, save on energy and operating expenses, prioritize assets sustainably and environmentally, provide a long term vision for the future, and improve image in an age where reputation can make or break a brand overnight.

Corporate Social Responsibility expert Mallen Baker defines CSR as: “how companies manage the business processes to produce an overall positive impact on society.” It can be General Mills installing energy monitoring meters on plant equipment to save $600,000 or Unilever using the lens of sustainability to innovate a new conditioner that uses less water. CSR can also include donating a percentage of profits to a worthy cause vetted by a professional charitable service with a deep understanding of the nonprofit realm.

Thumbs Up! Building the “Likability of a Brand”

CSR is important to both consumers and employees, encouraging loyalty and retention. According to a 2012 Edelman good purpose study cited in a whitepaper published by the Incentive Marketing Association’s Improvement Council, 47 percent of consumers have bought a brand at least monthly that supports a cause. Plus, 93 percent of consumers consider corporate citizenship when making purchasing decisions, according to a 2011 Cone/Echo Global Corporate Responsibility Study.

A 2010 Boston Center for Corporate Citizenship Study found that 66 percent of executives thought their CSR programs resulted in improved corporate reputation in a way that was seen as a business benefit. “CSR activities enhance the ability of a firm to be seen as legitimate in the eyes of consumers, investors, and employees,” stated authors Archie B. Carroll and Kareem M. Shabana in the paper The Business Case for Corporate Social Responsibility: A Review of Concepts, Research and Practice. “Time and again, consumers, employees, and investors have shown a distinct preference for companies that take their social responsibilities seriously.”

Find out how CSR can enhance employee morale AND cut business costs- Stay tuned for Part 2 next week!

 

  1. Retrieved 20 August 2015 from http://www.mallenbaker.net/csr/definition.php
  2. General Mills 2011 Corporate Responsibility Report
  3. Retrieved 20 August 2015 from http://www.unilever.com/sustainable-living/the-sustainable-living-plan/reducing-environmental-impact/water-use/helping-consumers-maximise-water/
  4. Retrieved 20 August 2015 from http://www.edelman.com/news/u-s-consumers-feel-most-responsible-to-help-yet-involvement-in-societal-issues-declines-for-the-first-time-look-to-marketers-to-bridge-the-gap/
  5. Retrieved 20 August 2015 from http://www.conecomm.com/contentmgr/showdetails.php/id/4067
  6. “Managing Corporate Citizenship as a Business Strategy,” Boston: Center for Corporate Citizenship, 2010.
  7. Carroll, Archie B., and Kareem M. Habana. “The Business Case for Corporate Social Responsibility: A Review of Concepts, Research and Practice.” International Journal of Management Reviews. The Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation, July 2011. Web. 4 Sept. 2015.
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