6. Brand as Citizen
For the modern day brand it’s no longer trendy to be sustainable, empathetic or charitable; it is essential. The traditional tablestakes of quality, price and performance are no longer enough to satisfy consumers. Focusing beyond the profit, to making sales that support empathy, we bridge me with we. While this notion of brands with a do-gooder brand ethos isn’t new, brands like Toms and Warby Parker have paved the way with their buy-one-give-one business models. The idea of a brand acting as a global citizen has also been increasingly adopted by large global brands like Nestlé and Johnson & Johnson. Today, more and more consumers are not only showing brand loyalty to companies that are kind but are demanding an overhaul on corporations’ values and missions. “91% percent of affluent millennials say they’d switch brands to one that supports a good cause, while more than 85% overall would buy a product with a social or environmental benefit.” (Cone) In order for brands to not only survive, but also thrive, they must have a purpose-led vision that actively exercises a performance-based driven mission.
For those who aren’t waiting for government, big name conglomerate or global corporations to make a change, people and small businesses have become advocates of change. 16-year-old, climate activist, Greta Thunburg, has made waves with her radical influence, proving one voice can make a change from me to we. In Canada, The Beer Store has driven an up-cycling program that has influenced the majority of Canadian brewers to use the same bottle structures in order to participate in their program that was started back in the 1970s. The Loop recycle program, based off the old-school milkman method, has piqued the interest of PepsiCo, Unilever, Mars, The Body Shop, Mondelez and Danone to participate in their mission to disrupt traditional plastic and fibre manufacturing by up-cycling waste. (Strategy) The fact that individuals and brands are banding together to make a difference, and ditching those who don't participate, demonstrates the immense influence brands have on our culture.
Julliard president Joseph Polisi, has written a book called The Artist as Citizen, which has inspired alumni of all three Julliard divisions to create their own programs that foster artistry and empart a mission that art and the arts community need to be understood worldwide. Julliard’s culture cultivates student and community collaboration within the creative process to enable a dynamic and impactful change. Polisi states that the “the 21st-century artist will have to be an effective and active advocate for the arts in communities large and small around the nation.” As a result, by fostering community involvement through artistry, “America’s best young artists can positively change the status of the arts in American society.” (The Julliard Journal) This model is being aptly be applied to the role brands play in influencing and impacting culture.
How can brands act as citizen by championing social good in an impactful and influential way to cultivate global goodness?
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