Everyone is doing it. Call it corporate social responsibility, cause marketing, corporate philanthropy, environmental stewardship or even community investment, but most forward-looking companies are trying to demonstrate that they are indeed making the world a better place.
The obvious reasons are:
Pride: we know that corporate responsibility commitments cultivate stronger pride – and ambassadorship – amongst employees.
Loyalty: we also know that clear social purpose and action deepens consumer bonding, purchase and loyalty.
Permission: genuinely playing a role in community development and corporate citizenship earns respect and forgiveness – and licence to operate.
Capital: demonstrating trustworthiness is key to building a credible, well-respectable reputation – and the result is solid social capital, and access to financial capital.
Companies that demonstrate clear and enduring values have the power to win our wallets as well as our loyalty. This is because people purchase commodities, but they commit to values. Bringing your values to life through words and actions is good for business. But what is truly at stake here is that companies want us to fall in love with them. Be you a consumer, employee, commentator, community partner, distributor or a policy maker, companies want you to date them, repeatedly and loyally. If they were human, they would want you to be in a loving, committed relationship with them.
So what are the features that get us to fall in love with companies – or brands?
Function: The price of entry into the romance game is functional excellence. You have to offer something that I want to use, or convince me that I need to use. And you need to provide something that is functionally better than the other guy.
Intrigue: You need to be interesting and alluring. You need to have a compelling story or proposition. You could start with a great “pick-up” line, but that needs to have substance and meaning behind it. You have to make me want to ask for more.
Purpose: You need to have a clear, genuine purpose beyond your functionality. I admire commitment, I aspire to achieve a higher-order purpose. So if you want me to be your companion, you need to let me know that you are genuinely committed to a purpose.
Values: You need to be guided by a clear set of values – and mean them. Successful marriages are based on sharing and agreeing on values – it means we want the same things and agree on how best to live our lives.
Trustworthiness: Charm without substance is dangerous; you need to be trustworthy. I need to trust that you mean what you say so that I know I can rely on you. Successful relationships survive because of trust.
Action: And finally, your purpose, your values, your commitments need to be brought to life through real action. Because remember, actions speak louder than words. And in today’s marketplace, outcomes are the proof of success.
As a client once said to me – “I get it. If I want to fall in love with someone I need to know what they stand for. If you want me to fall in love with your brand or your business, I need to know what you stand for.”
So how are companies doing? How are they doing in terms of transcending function and articulating purpose and values, and driving real action?
That is what the Divinsky Blog is designed to discuss.
We will explore corporate responsibility activities, cause marketing programs, corporate philanthropy contributions, environmental stewardship commitments – and see how well companies, and brands, are doing in the romance department. Are they getting lots of dates, are those dates turning into enduring connections, and are we falling in love with them.
We welcome your input – tell us your stories, your experiences, your assessment of what companies and brands are doing to attract your attention, and your heart.