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NEW NORMAL: OK for brands to support good causes & make money by Suzanne Elshult, Your Executive Coach, HRNow

marketing-ornate-yak-fnl-160-100Last week my marketing executive per group explored rebranding. Matt Duncan, VP of Marketing with DatStat and Cathy Cooper, VP of Marketing with Washington Federal were discussion catalysts. We ended up having a rich exchange mostly revolving around how the NEW NORMAL has made it OK for brand to support good causes and make money at the same time. Initially we explored what questions we need to ask ourselves in order to decide if it is time to rebrand:

  • Can your team articulate “why” you exist?
  • Do your employees believe in a higher purpose?
  • Are they passionate about what they do for a living?
  • Are they proud of where they work?
  • Do your customers consider themselves fans?

We agreed that the necessary building blocks for getting started include:

  • Core values
  • Culture
  • Purpose

We all agreed that the strongest, most authentic “purpose” for brands tends to either be core to their business purpose (why do banks exists in society anyway?) or it’s baked into their business model from the very beginning, like Toms shoes.

MERBlakeEmerging data show that effective integration of social purpose with our brands will importantly drive growth. Also interestingly, “Nearly two thirds of consumers feel that it is no longer enough for corporations to simply give money away to good causes, they need to integrate them into their day-today business.” Carol Cone, Global Practice Chair, Business + Social Purpose, Edelman Worldwide). We reviewed both good and bad examples of how companies execute on this.

Here are some of the comments made about  companies we felt do not do a very good job:


  • They are overdoing it. This is too much in my face.
  • This is over the top. It needs to be more discoverable.
  • I feel manipulated.
  • It is struggling with being authentic.

On the other hand, for the companies perceived as doing a good job comments  looked like this:

  • They are effective at  tying it back to what they are good at.
  • The opportunities are nicely related to their target market. There is alignment  (Benetton Youth Unemployment).
  • It is a meaningful topic and it is authentic because they have history of taking on causes (Benetton).
  • It ties into a big current issue (Levi’s Waterless).
  • It is right in line with their core values (Levis: being strong and tough).
  • Donating detergent to oil spills and wildlife cleanup resonates (Dawn).
  • It is around food integrity and never going to the pink slime. It resonates with millennials even though it IS fast food. You get the feel it is healthy (Chipotle).

Do you have some really bad or good examples to share?

Suggested Resource: Simon Sinek’s “Start With Your Why


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