BfG News Issue 10 - Editor's Column: Starting the Responsible Brand Journey

10 Mar 2008|Added Value

SUMMIT-08-LOGOSo how do marketers start on the responsible brand journey and how do they get it right? This was the challenge for delegates at the ‘Branding for Good’ summit. Stimulating speeches were mixed with energising workshop sessions to put the theory into practice for specific brands.

As a respected leader in the communications industry, Sir Martin Sorrell, CEO of WPP  started the day with a pragmatic overview. Businesses need to be mindful not to fall into the trap of doing something for the sake of the current trend. Instead it is important to build capability effectively to deliver a brand that will neither offend the environment, cross government or NGO’s, and perhaps above all, won’t upset employees. Taking all your stakeholders expectations into consideration is key to success.

 collageMarie Ridgley from Added Value shared new thinking on where to start on the responsible journey and how to navigate the best route for your brand. Categories are engaging at different levels, some participating actively, some wanting to get involved but don’t know how, whilst others have their head firmly in the sand. Marie highlighted the many factors to bear in mind as media ‘mainstream’ the issues which in turn score points on the political agenda. What results is a virtuous circle propelling change  – take the plastic bag episode for instance. From the Daily Mail campaign, to M&S charging 5p per bag & the government considering a total ban; what issue will be next?

So, how do you engage in a responsible strategy? At a corporate level or a brand level, or both? Does ethical sit in your brand positioning? To help answer this strategic question were practical responsible brand models which gave clear direction on the route to take.

Next, Leslie Pascaud challenged the summit to think about the responsible building blocks: Brand, Category and Stakeholders. She stressed the importance to be true to your brand DNA and embrace your brand’s ‘shadow’ by addressing relevant issues head on. Understanding what’s happening in your category and also adjacent categories is important to keep ahead Added Value research revealed supermarkets and household appliances are perceived by consumers to be ahead of other industries in responsible behaviour, whilst also identifying which issues they expect to be tackled by which categories. And of course recognising and addressing the influences from the growing number of stakeholders – employees, NGO’s, shareholders and even consumers is critical. Having nailed the strategy it then needs to be executed impeccably by following the P.A.T.H. – Positive, Authentic, Tangible, Honest – and of course, avoiding the greenwash!

The new thinking from Added Value was wrapped around engaging talks from a diverse mix of speakers – HSBC, Marks & Spencer and E.ON each sharing the highs and lows on how their companies are building responsible practices with relative sustainable business growth.  Click here to read more

The day finished with questions from the floor to our panel of speakers and guests from WWF and The Carbon Trust. Debate sparked around employee engagement as an important part of attracting & retaining talent; brand management being the responsibility of the whole organisation; creating new partnerships both with NGOs and B2B; and tips for navigating your brand through the new green technologies & initiatives. 

The second ‘Branding for Good’ certainly lived up to its promise of being an inspiring, thought provoking and energetic day.  All speaker presentations including the interview with Sir Martin Sorrell and other bonus materials are available on our ‘Branding For Good’ CD Rom. – click here to purchase.

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