Ethical Brand Development From The Ground Up
by Chris Garrett
Brand identity isn’t just about having a pithy slogan and an attractive logo. It’s also about your company’s identity. A solid brand can become recognizable to consumers and represent what kind of company you want to become, laying out plans for how you plan to run your business. The most effective brands are those that have made explicit statements of ethical guidelines they follow. By setting out your business on a path of ethical behavior, you’ll not only earn recognition and esteem, but also a brand that can grow and thrive virtuously.
The most important thing you can do to make sure your brand is recognized for its ethical accomplishments is to have a concise mission statement. In it, write candidly about your beliefs and why you think it’s important for businesses to have ethical goals. Then, in every location you operate out of, display your mission statement prominently. Place it on plaques for your employees’ desks or display it on a wall mural so that it’s always visible. It will serve as a reminder to your customers and your employees what your ideals are. Google famously stated that their informal slogan was “Don’t be evil,” which has given the entire corporation a slant of goodwill in the media ever since, even at times that they toe the line of ethical behavior.
An easy way to establish your brand as ethical is to concern yourself with how much impact your business has on the environment. Some brands, like Monsanto, have been exposed as wasteful or bad for the environment, leading to PR disasters and damaged reputations. Meanwhile, brands that go out of their way to be green are rewarded with positive press. To put your best foot forward without leaving a hazardously large carbon footprint, plan ahead for ways to be eco-friendly.
Recycled materials can be a good way to lower your environmental impact, as is the use of reusable materials around your office. Reclaimed art and décor express your commitment to reducing waste, but also your brand’s aesthetic.
When using these to your advantage in branding, make sure you’re underscoring the fact that you’re designing your company’s success around a sustainable model and looking towards the future. It will speak clearly to your ideals and show that you’re devoted to leading by example.
You can’t always be the person shaking hands and making sales. Your employees are the people who interact with your customers the most and they must reflect the ethos that you want associated with your brand. When you’re training employees, you should always instill in them the ethos that your brand has to offer. This isn’t as simple as saying “here are the ethics we value” and expecting your employees to model their behavior according to them. You have to use ethics training to explain to them why you’ve chosen these specific values and help them understand why they’re important to the company. This should be part of your employee orientation, but also consider having workshops or meetings on your company’s latest ethical ventures.
Overall employees should be brand advocates. One of the best ways to guarantee employee dedication to your brand is to make sure you prioritize their wellbeing. Be fair to them and allow them to benefit from your ethical brand through their treatment and competent management- this will encourage them to recommend your company to everyone they know. This is much easier to accomplish as a young business as there are no bad instances to follow your brand into the future.
Charitable Works and Partnerships.
Forming a partnership with a charitable organization is becoming more prevalent among businesses. You don’t need to join the board of a charity, but you might consider offering your services or goods for their events. Also, make sure that you offer incentives to your employees to participate as volunteers with your charitable partners.
By such an association, you will benefit from the causes you support and you can build real relationships with people who will most appreciate your efforts. Word of mouth marketing has evolved into the social media stage, and it’s most viable when it comes from a place of sincere admiration. The only way to get that is to offer sincere effort to associate your brand with worthy causes like the improvement of a local park. You’ll create a buzz among consumers if you make a measured effort to support causes that recognized as being beneficial to society.
In the digital age, a business’s private dealings are getting harder to keep private. By the same token, the word of the day is “transparency” wherein brands are proud to display their inner workings. Consumers tend to prefer these brands because they feel less as though they’re being swindled and manipulated. Achieving brand transparency is easiest and most profitable for young companies that work toward an ethical brand. Broadcast your good works to gain a dedicated following that associates your brand with genuine efforts to make the world a better place.
Chris Garrett is a marketing consultant and designer in the Western US. He began his career as a photographer and designer, eventually leading him to design logos for local businesses. Discovering his knack for marketing, he moved into the field by heading up marketing campaigns across multiple mediums. He specializes in branding efforts that incorporate both art and ethics to display a brand’s personality.
This is an article contributed to Young Upstarts and published or republished here with permission. All rights of this work belong to the authors named in the article above.