Brand is more than just “looking good”. An authentic brand requires doing good.
Just putting a pink ribbon on your product doesn’t make you socially responsible. “Certified Organic,” “Carbon Neutral,” and “No Trans Fats” claims on your packaging won’t achieve it either. A brand isn’t socially responsible unless they are consciously and meticulously concerned with their impact on society. While the vast majority of companies think of social responsibility in terms of green initiatives and charitable donations, true social responsibility is a guiding philosophy that runs far deeper than individual programs, outreaches, or financial sponsorship.
Before a company adds a social responsibility page to their website or boasts about their community and environmental initiatives, they should ask themselves several questions: what is society? Why does it matter? On what does society depend? How is our company, as a whole, contributing to society? How are our products, strategic partners, affiliates, retailers, and third party service providers contributing to society? How are we detracting from it? And, in which areas are we likely to effect societal trends and evolutions, for better and for worse, intended and not? Neglecting to understand, predict, consider, and moderate your social impact is socially irresponsible, even if you help fund a great cause.
If companies don’t abide by voluntary and mannerly rules of conduct and responsibility, stricter legislation will be required to uphold societal values. In her book “Why Manners Matter: The Case for Civilized Behavior in a Barbarous World,” Australian speechwriter turned noteworthy social philosopher, Lucinda Holdforth, suggests that the stability of modern society may actually depend more on manners than it does on legislation, transportation, or the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Every working element of society depends on manners. “Manners,” she explains, “are both evidence of a functioning society and an important means of upholding that society. Manners provide a form of social self-limitation, a means by which citizens signal their willingness to live together and abide by common standards…. Destroy manners- sweep aside all of a society’s habits, conventions and patterns of behavior- and you may well find that you have nothing left but chaos. And because human beings cannot live for long in a state of anarchy, sooner or later some form of oppressive authority will step in to restore order on a new, more punitive premises” (1).
1.Lucinda Holdforth. Why Manners Matter: The Case for Civilized behavior in a Barbarous World. Amy Einhorn Books, 2009. P. 25-6.