In an increasingly interconnected, uncertain, complex and competitive world, brands are an integral part of our lives. From the everyday purchases we make, the clothes we wear, the transport we use, the company we work for, the place we study, the food we eat, to the products we buy, brands are present in almost every aspect of our daily lives.
Even the most important decisions, brands influence, in many ways, the way we think, feel and act.
Brands affect our relationship with the world, and vice versa.
Humanity is a relatively new word that means doing more good things for the world. And it seems that many employees, customers and consumers want, and expect, that humanity from and in brands.
The data tells us that more brands need to consider how to effect social change. Nearly 70% of consumers say it is important for brands to take public positions on social and political issues.
However, many companies may not yet know how to redirect the purpose, vision and mission of their brand.
That’s when seeing what other brands have achieved can inspire change for the better in other companies.
There are some brands that act irresponsibly or harmfully. This has led people around the world to feel a deep cynicism, along with a growing distrust and a gap between expectations and reality in consumers’ relationships with brands and companies. Understandably, they feel deeply let down by empty promises.
But also more and more consumers are looking for authenticity, and meaningful and sustainable action for the good of society and the planet.
The usual question: Opportunity or problem?
Havas’ 2021 study, which measures brand “meaning” in functional, personal and collective terms, shows that 75% of brands could disappear overnight and most people wouldn’t mind or would easily find a replacement.
Almost half of brands are considered trustworthy and only 34% of consumers think that companies are transparent about their commitments and promises.
Consumers are talking while there are brands that still do not understand or embrace the profound changes, in all areas, that we are going through.
Fortunately there are others who have embraced their new role.
Our expectations of brands are at an all-time high.
73% of global respondents believe brands must now act for the good of society and the world and 64% of people have entered their own era of action, preferring to buy from companies with purpose as well as profit.
More than half (53%) of people will go even further, saying they are willing to pay more for a brand that takes a position.
It is no longer enough to sell and be profitable. We are demanding that brands commit to building a better world.
I joined the change a long time ago, and I continue to
At the company where I work, every day we contribute to improving brands to improve the world. Every week I share in my social networks, blog or conferences my vision and my actions to improve the world by improving brands.
Assuming that this was not enough, I am now writing a new book which, for the time being, will be called “A Better World Needs Better Brands”.
I write it to dive into the world of brands and explore and share how they can make a positive difference in the world.
A new world, a new book
In this book, I seek to enable those who truly understand and feel that this is a historic opportunity to do good to discover how brands can make a significant impact on local and global communities, contribute to the well-being of their employees and customers, adopt ethical and sustainable business practices, and align what is said with what is done, so that actions speak for themselves.
There are leading brands, from small, medium and large companies, that in the field of social and environmental responsibility show us how it is possible to strike a balance between business profit and the well-being of people and the planet.
It is worth noting that this is happening from small companies to corporate giants. Size is neither a disadvantage nor an excuse, because beyond size many brands are demonstrating that it is possible to do business in a responsible and sustainable way.
Essentially, “A better world needs better brands” is a call to action.
We need to be more conscious of our actions and our purchasing decisions. We need to think about how to support companies that care about making a positive change in the world, not just thinking, but taking action. Only then can we aspire to a more just and sustainable future for all.
How can brands help us live in a better world?
When brands are used in a committed, conscious, responsible and ethical manner, they can have a significant impact on creating a better society, leading transitively to living in a better world.
The brands that are leading the way are doing an admirable job.
They have demonstrated that they can contribute to the economic and social development of local communities, deliver quality products and services, and help solve some of the world’s most pressing challenges.
The good news is that brands can also be a force for good.
Many people who are concerned about our future ask me:
How can we take action and support brands that help create a better world?
When customers-consumers-users, like you and me, are exposed to or interact with brands that understand us, treat us well, we connect.
We pay them not only with money, but with our time, our attention, our affection and our commitment.
Such brands are motivated by purpose and values, and win us over through a basic human need: the need to belong.
Here are some ways you can do it:
1. Get to know the commercial practices of brands
Before you buy a product or service, research the brands’ business practices: do they use sustainable materials, do they have social and environmental responsibility policies, and do they care about the well-being of their employees and local communities? There are many organisations that rank companies according to their social and environmental impact, such as B Corp or the Dow Jones Sustainability Index.
2. Support brands that promote ethical and sustainable business practices.
Once you have researched the business practices of brands, support those that promote ethical and sustainable practices. Buy products and services from these brands and help them spread their message through social media and other communication channels. Every time you choose them, you are helping them to help.
3. Communicate your concerns to the brands that need to improve (although most will not listen or respond to you, some will).
If you find a brand that needs to improve its business practices, communicate your concerns to the company. Write them an email, give them a call or send them a message on social media. Often, companies are willing to listen to their customers and improve their practices if they receive enough feedback.
4. Participate in initiatives that promote responsible business practices.
There are many initiatives and organisations that promote responsible business practices. You can join local or national groups that promote fair trade, sustainability and corporate social responsibility. You can also support initiatives of companies and organisations working for a better world, such as BOTTLETOP’s #TOGETHERBAND campaign, which promotes sustainability and social justice.
5. Shared values.
Many brands are strengthened when their employees and customers share the values that the brand stands for and lives by. In the sum of values-based actions, the possibility to better impact society and the world grows. The support of people reinforces the role and commitment to these shared values.
Brands that stand out for their commitment to sustainability, social responsibility and building a better world.
It is important to note that there is no common denominator in terms of industry, age or type of product or service. The common denominator is in the purpose, the vision and the way of doing things. It is a matter of mindset, culture and leadership.
- Patagonia: Patagonia is an outdoor apparel and equipment company that has been known for its commitment to sustainability and social justice. Patagonia has adopted sustainable and ethical business practices in its supply chain, implemented carbon reduction policies, and donated millions of dollars to environmental and social justice non-profits. “Instead of extracting value from nature and transforming it into wealth for investors, we will use the wealth Patagonia creates to protect the source of all wealth.”
- B Corp: B Corp is a certification awarded to companies that meet high social and environmental standards. Some of the companies certified as B Corp include Eileen Fisher and The Body Shop. These companies have adopted sustainable practices in their supply chain, implemented corporate social responsibility policies and made significant contributions to non-profit organisations.
- Interface: Interface is a carpet and flooring company that has adopted sustainability policies throughout its supply chain. The company has committed to achieving zero carbon emissions from its operations by 2040 and has implemented corporate social responsibility policies in the workplace.
- TOTEM Branding: is a company specialised in creating and transforming brands with the aim of helping companies to communicate their values, live their purpose effectively and bring people together. To contribute to creating a better world through its branding projects, TOTEM Branding focuses on the following aspects: branding, sustainability, purpose, culture, talent, to be a coherent and authentic brand that resonates with its communities and allows them to build lasting relationships.
- Alter Eco: Is a company that produces organic and fair trade food, such as chocolate, coffee and tea. The company works directly with farmers to ensure they receive a fair price for their products and is also committed to minimising its environmental impact.
- Allbirds is a footwear company that uses sustainable materials, such as merino wool, eucalyptus fibre and recycled plastic bottles, to produce comfortable and stylish shoes. The company is also committed to reducing its environmental impact and ensuring that its suppliers meet high social and environmental standards.
- Numi Organic Tea: An organic and fair trade tea company that is committed to using sustainable ingredients and minimising its environmental impact. The company has also established long-term relationships with its suppliers to ensure that they receive a fair price for their products.
- Cotopaxi: is an outdoor equipment company that uses sustainable and recycled materials in the production of its products. The company also works with non-profit organisations to support local communities and protect the environment.
- Bronner’s is a personal care products company that uses organic and fair trade ingredients in the production of its products. The company is also committed to supporting non-profit organisations that work for social and environmental justice.
- CarbonCure: Did you know that concrete contains harmful carbon dioxide gases? Concrete is responsible for around 7% of annual CO2 emissions worldwide. CarbonCure is working to change that. They have created a product that removes CO2 from concrete while maintaining the strength of the original cement. They are working to make their CO2 removal technology standard for all concrete production worldwide.
- Orbital Systems: Motivated by the world’s global water shortage, Orbital Systems are the creators of the world’s first circular shower system. By reusing water, this system saves up to 90% more water than regular showers and uses significantly less energy.
- Perfect Day: How single-cell yeasts are doing the work of nearly 700-kilogram cows. A kinder, greener protein designed for a sustainable future. Cow-free dairy is here, with the potential to change the future of animal dairy and plant-based milks. It is not the product of a cow or soya or nut; the main ingredient of this milk was made by microbes in a lab, turned into a tasty and recognisable food. Lab-grown meat comes close. But lab-grown dairy products have already arrived.
Hope is on the move
Many brands have great power to influence our society and our planet.
When brands are used responsibly, consciously and ethically, they can help us create a better world.
Brands that have taken an active role in building a better world are proving that by doing good they are doing better.
There are still brands that justify themselves by saying that implementing sustainable practices is expensive or not profitable. When the data doesn’t say that not being sustainable today will be much more expensive and costly than being sustainable.
There are brands that have used their influence and resources to create a positive impact on society and the environment.
From implementing initiatives to reduce their carbon footprint, to programmes to ensure fair and safe working conditions for their employees. From products that minimise their impact on the environment to integrating diversity, equity and inclusion as part of their culture.
When we support these brands, we are helping to build a better world.
Support can take many forms:
- Buy products from brands that do good: When you buy products from a brand that has a positive impact on society, you are supporting their cause and contributing to their success.
- Spread the word: Share information about these brands on your social networks or in your circle of friends and family. You can tell them about the brand’s story and how they are contributing to improving society.
- Write reviews: If you have purchased products from these brands, write a review online to help others learn more about the brand and its positive impact.
- Collaborate with the brand: If you have skills or resources that could be useful to the brand, offer your help. You could volunteer or collaborate on a specific campaign.
- Donate: If the brand has a charity partner, consider making a donation. You can also buy products that donate a portion of their profits to a charitable cause.
By doing so, you can generate, in addition to the above, all of this:
- Positive impact on society: Brands that do good have a positive impact on society and the environment. By supporting these brands, you are contributing to a more just and sustainable world.
- Promoting positive values: Brands that do good are often committed to values such as ethics, sustainability, inclusion and social responsibility. By supporting these brands, you are promoting these positive values in society.
- Employment generation: Brands that do good are often companies committed to their community and their workers. By supporting these brands, you are contributing to job creation and community well-being.
- Innovation and creativity: Brands that do good are often at the forefront of innovation and creativity. By supporting these brands, you are encouraging innovation and creativity in society.
- Sense of purpose and belonging: Supporting brands that do good can give you a sense of purpose and belonging. By contributing to a cause you care about, you can feel more connected to society and a greater purpose.
By choosing brands that are committed to society, sustainability and social responsibility, we are sending a clear message that we value these practices and want them to become the norm.
In addition, by choosing brands that do good or improve our lives, we can help reduce the carbon footprint of our purchases, protect biodiversity and ensure that workers are treated fairly, among many other real benefits.
Tomorrow is today
With less than half of the brands considered trustworthy, and almost 8 out of 10 of them likely to disappear without us caring, this book should act as a wake-up call.
It is no longer enough for a brand to appear on Google.
Working to improve people’s lives at all levels should be at the top of every brand’s agenda.
We live in an era of “permacrisis” and consumers expect brands to show support for people in times of crisis.
There are immediate opportunities to forge meaningful connections in the short term through personal benefits, i.e. to reduce life stressors.
And rising expectations in three specific areas will drive brands to evolve: more connection, more care for the planet and more growth (not at any cost).
Keep an eye on this movement around the world as it is opening the door to a new era of purposeful brands that champion causes, share values and commit to social principles.
Consumers, customers, employees, citizens have the power and brands have the responsibility to lead change towards a more sustainable, diverse, inclusive, ethical and just future.
When we support brands that commit to these values, we can help create a better world for all.
The aim of this book is to help build or transform better brands for a better world. And to support the development and dissemination of knowledge about how good branding can improve lives, strengthen societies and benefit the world at large.
I am very excited about the opportunities that are being created. And very motivated to share them in my new book. I am convinced that a better world needs better brands.