Creating Strong Relationships

Building Business by Building Community

"Ultimately, the success of business is linked to the prosperity and stability of the society that hosts it." Bob Dunn, CEO Levi Strauss

Can companies compete AND contribute to society? Can doing good also provide good financial returns? Is there an untapped "area" that even small companies can take advantage of to build competitive advantage and win loyalty?

The answer is yes. Social Brand Marketing is a way to translate your objectives and values into strategic community and cause initiatives that are meaningful to your targets.

Making a difference matters to customers, employees and shareholders.


Here's an example of a Social Brand Marketing promotion undertaken by a Canadian shopping centre:

Hillside Centre, set an aggressive goal to overtake its competitor and become the number one shopping centre in the region in terms of sales per square foot. One of the Social Brand Marketing programs that helped this client achieve their goal was an event called "The Night Before Late Night Shopping", which kicked off the Christmas season. All local charities were invited to pick up and sell tickets to this one-night event for $5.00 and keep the proceeds. Ticket holders attended the event to support their favorite charity and to take advantage of special one-time-only discounts and special offers from retailers. They also had a chance to win one of hundreds of door prizes donated by retailers, enjoy entertainment and complementary goodies and beverages.

The result? A centre filled to the brim with over 15,000 shoppers who supported 60 charities by purchasing $75,000. worth of tickets to the one-night event. The shopping centre achieved a tremendous spike in sales, created a significant 'feel good' event, and helped literally thousands of people in the community through the funds raised by the charities. "The Night Before Late Night Shopping" was so successful, it has become an annual event with ever-increasing attendance and record-breaking sales!

So, how can a design firm build Social Brand Marketing into a successful program for its clients?

It's very simple if you follow a few key steps:
  1. Review your client's heritage, mission and values and really understand them. (What is the company's mission statement? What do they believe in?)
  2. Clearly define the specific product or service goals the client has to offer. (What is the purpose of the product or service?)
  3. Clearly define the brand goals. (How does the brand want to change the world? What is the brand attributes? The personality?)
  4. Understand the issues your clients employees care most about. (Are they worried about health issues, literacy, the arts?)
  5. Understand key target concerns. (Who is your product or service for? Are they concerned about terrorism, homeless people, children's health?)
  6. What are the geographic concerns? (Are there issues specific to the client's distribution areas such as drought, poverty or crime?)
  7. What are the community concerns. (Has the community identified a need for a new library, a museum, a clinic, a literacy program?)
  8. Look for any common ground in Steps 1 through 7.
  9. Define the opportunity to support the community.
  10. Build your client's support into their communications. This can take many different forms. Support can form the basis for a donation policy, a promotion with a tie-in to benefit a cause, a partnering program, a signature marketing program, or an event.

Why implement and integrate a Social Brand Marketing program?

It will help your client differentiate themselves from their competition. It will resonate with your target. It will build morale and pride in your employees. And most important, Social Brand Marketing will contribute to building a better business by building a better community.

* Source: Walker Research: Reputation and Social Performance Assessment
** Source: Business Week, April 1997, Survey of 2100 MBA students

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