BfG News Issue 4 - Editor's Column: Brand authenticity and the Digital Influence

04 Sep 2007|Added Value

So, why is this whole issue of “greenwashing” particularly relevant in marketing today?  What is really driving this increasing onus on brands to speak the truth?

We believe the digital influence should not be disregarded.  The Internet has had a significant impact on consumer purchasing behaviour and the power that consumers have both individually, and as a collective, to hold brands and corporations to account in ways they have never been able to before.  Take the Greenpeace green my Apple’ campaign as an example of how consumer pressure forced a global corporation like Apple to change their environmental policy.

At our ‘Branding for Good’ summit in March next year, we will explore the digital influence on consumer behaviour and the consumer expectations of ethical brand behaviour.  From proprietary Added Value research, we hope to analyse and answer the central question – “When your processes and touch-points are so visible to both your customers and employees so that there is literally ‘nowhere to hide’, how should you behave and manage this in a way that is true to your brand?”

We can in fact look at the digital world as a two-edged sword.  On the one side it has been the conduit for information that has largely driven a power shift towards customers and employees in influencing a company’s ethical agenda. On the other it is the forum in which many inauthentic brands are exposed and their reputation suffers.  We believe that by having a better understanding of how to behave authentically and ‘embrace your shadow’ in this digital world, we can provide the necessary learnings to stay true to your brand and allow you to co-create its meaning via an on-going dialogue with your customers and employees.

But don’t get us wrong – we know the idea of ‘letting go’ of your brand in this environment is a scary prospect for companies who are developing an ethical strategy;  but it needs to be embraced and further understood to avoid being tagged with the “greenwash” label.

Peter Drinkwater
Associate Director

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