What do TOMS shoes, Bombas socks, Dove skin care, Trades of Hope jewelry and accessories, and Patagonia outdoor clothing have in common? They’ve built a strategy around their brand that incorporates this aspect of giving back that makes an impact. An impact that stirs emotion in their consumers. Some actually have “buy one, give one” programs, some give a percentage of sales to a cause, some give back by providing jobs in third world countries and some even give back to our society by creating self-esteem programs. Regardless how they give back, I personally feel good about these brands when I purchase them because they’ve built this into their branding.
So, can giving back be part of a brand’s essence, absolutely! But it’s not for every brand and must be done right.
Doing the good work to define your brand essence is critical for internal alignment and external consistency that will eventually lead to brand loyalty. We have been conducting internal brand audits with our sister companies and their brands. Some of our questions include: What are three messages your brand needs to communicate? What does your brand stand for? What virtues does it believe in?
As part of a larger organization, The Village, there were of course lots of similarities in values. The one that did not specifically come up that was surprising was giving back. Since inception, the Village has given back 10% of its profits to charities. Beyond that, we are deeply involved in our communities. Why didn’t this come up in our exercises? Is this something we should be leveraging? The conclusion we came to is that it impacts the way we work in other ways.
For us, it’s a part of our culture. It makes us who we are as a team, across all our companies. It helps us attract and retain employees. It makes us all work that little bit harder, knowing that what we bring in impacts people outside of our organization. We care. And so, while it remains at the core of why we do what we do, it does not fit in with most of our companies’ brand identities.
We are far from alone. Many companies and brands do great things and give back without it being woven into their brands.
In the end, my challenge for all of us would be to consider a give back component to your brand and organization and be very intentional with why and where it lies strategically within your four walls.