26th September 2018
... cause we want ya, and we need ya.
If we see Kiki (if you have no idea who or what Kiki is, check it out here) as the average customer, then we can be sure that a brand wants and needs this love. A given. In times like this, where market saturation is a common condition, a brand’s corporate reputation can be the irresistible icing on the cake. Brands cry out for solutions, but what options do they have for improving their reputations?
Due to increasing environmental awareness amongst increasingly ‘woke’ consumers, resource scarcity, fast fashion, coal mining or fracking, sustainable development is more and more becoming a focal point. Whether it’s the restructuring of a countries tax policy, buying locally grown food or beaches in southern Europe that are mistreated by tourists, Sustainability, beyond its sensible practise, can no longer be an area of complacency.
Further to the sustainable or the ecological responsibility of a brand, one cannot forget its social responsibility to the world. Respecting people regardless of skin colour, religion, gender or origin, needs to be in the focus of all company operations. Equal Representation within offices, industries or organisations is at least as important as sustainability. Companies can no longer escape this responsibility, if not purely for the societal expectation that social and ecological issues be handled correctly.
Brands that ignore these voices are increasingly received negatively. This is especially true if they only make an effort to appear to be ‘green’, in essence, actively participate in "green washing".
This discrepancy between representation and reality attracts criticism, and since it is a question of morality, it is not easy to counter this criticism. A declining company reputation can have fatal consequences for all area of the business. Therefore, it is important to get it right the first time around and avoid the high cost associated with getting your reputation back on track.
An informed and prepared reputation management strategy is of the utmost importance for any profitable organization. Virtually no company can afford to leave this aspect out of the picture.
A way to boost Kiki’s love
… is definitely through corporate social responsibility.
A company's reputation has many dimensions to consider. There is the cognitive dimension, which requires economic organisations to meet certain performance targets. On the other hand, there is the affective dimension, which can also be described as the consumers individual world, where attributes such as authenticity and emotional attractiveness are focused on.
Increasingly so, we also have a normative dimension to consider. This social reputation is characterized by the moral demands of consumers, e.g. good working conditions, fair payment or environment-friendly production. To be successful in this area, the brand must meet both social and ecological expectations. The company must go above and beyond both codified and non-codified standards to gain prestige in society.
This is where corporate social responsibility or CSR comes into play. CSR is a concept that enables companies to voluntarily integrate social and ecological issues into their business, i.e. beyond their legal responsibility. Not only in order to impress society. It’s also a great opportunity for companies and brands to be unique and stand out. Above all the four-level pyramid according to Carroll, shows how these elements connect to the company reputation.
What to do for Kiki’s love: The four laws of CSR
The economic component serves as a foundation, which describes the fundamental responsibility of the company to secure itself, namely the orientation towards profit maximization and growth. To ensure the long-term existence of a brand, it must comply with the law, i.e. take the legal component into account. The fulfilment of the social expectations and the perception of the social responsibility of a company is reflected in the ethical component, e.g. hire employees regardless of appearance, religion or origin. And the fourth and final level, the philanthropic component, encompasses any proactive, entrepreneurial commitment that serves the welfare of society and the environment.
With a good reputation management and the integration of CSR there is no way Kiki can resist you.
Laura Ertl from our office in Vienna shares her thoughts on the benefits of sustainable and ecological brand responsibility – follow the team on Twitter to learn more.
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