While the pursuit of growth and profits continues to rule daily life within the corporate world, a growing number of businesses are also measuring their success against one of the most fundamental ethical principles of business – that of “social responsibility.”
Many believe that social capital is an under-leveraged intellectual capital asset which could be powerfully mobilized within both organizations and communities to deliver benefit.
Until recently, few organizations seriously considered ethics to be a legitimate topic for enterprise planning and strategic thinking. Those at the top of an enterprise regularly spent time developing their organizational and functional strategic plans, their growth strategy, possibly even their brand strategy, but ethics and regulatory compliance was merely an issue for the finance department, legal counsel, and possibly human resources.
To many it sounds strange to talk of “branding” a state or civic entity, but it is quickly becoming common practice among nations, regions, cities, and communities. Branding has spread rapidly beyond the confines of the corporate world of consumer products to embrace all entities ranging from the individual person to supra-national organizations, such as the European Union.
The theory and practice of professional strategy is reaching into the world of philanthropic and nonprofit organizations and driving the creation of new strategic performance measurement systems that promise to optimize the delivery of social and cultural benefit to society.
“The Ethical Crisis in America” – A Status Report (2005). In America, the bursting of the so-called “dot-com bubble,” led to an unfolding ethical crisis that has expanded to become multinational, and now, global in its occurrence.
In a world of too many brands for human cognition to make sense of, a successful brand needs to stand for something that actually matters. What makes brands enduringly relevant today is the way their enterprise impacts the society, its culture, the environment, the world, and values which aren’t consumer-driven considerations.
Corporate branding is moving beyond its concern with consumers alone, to become increasingly concerned with inspiring confidence among investors, creating a positive work environment for employees, and protecting the communities and the environment within which an enterprise operates. This shift to a brand strategy of social responsibility is a brand management strategy for attracting and retaining customers by building corporate reputation through the practice of corporate social responsibility.