CSR Called the New ‘Branded Content’

Environmental leader jpeg As sustainability and green marketing become significant ways for companies to build their brand, their communications also need to transition to the digital realm.

Posted May 20, 2009
By Environmental Leader

As more and more companies try to distinguish themselves by
marketing their environmental stewardship and energy efficiency
efforts, branding increasingly is coming down to how a company conveys
its corporate social responsibility standards, according to Diana Verde
Nieto, Chief Executive Officer of London-based Clownfish.

In Nieto’s commentary at MediaPost, she states that “Traditional communications are no longer sufficient for creating loyal fans or bringing the brand to the forefront.”

Instead, a company must reach out to the public in the digital sphere, engaging with entertainment
vehicles on the Internet and in other digital platforms. Brands that do
so gain significant publicity, she writes, adding, “When brand
entertainment is based on the things that really matter, consumers
volunteer their attention. It is a move from interruption to
attraction.”

Nieto cites the example of the Dove Evolution of Beauty video, which ties into women’s self-esteem issues as they relate to sustainability.

“Many women feel strongly about these issues, and because of this,
women will listen to what Dove has to say,” Nieto writes. “By
responding to women’s concerns, Dove is building the social value of
its brand and in so doing, enhancing emotional value and brand
identity. This strategy has only worked for Dove because it is part of
their long term therefore credible commitment to CSR.”

Tying CSR efforts into public events is another strategy to extend a company’s brand, she notes.

The use of CSR as tied to branded content, Nieto writes, also:

  • helps to build a brands reputation
  • is a point of differentiation
  • encourages consumer interest
  • helps to build consumer trust and loyalty.

If consumers see that brands are
addressing the issues that are important to them, it follows that they
are likely to continue to buy their products,” she notes.

Since the recession started, consumers have upped their purchase of green items, according to one survey.

U.S. sales of organic food and beverages are up 17 percent over last year.

The rise of blogs, social networks and online news organizations
focused on environmental and social issues have consumers accustomed to
receiving independent information instantly. This also gives consumers
unprecedented opportunity to verify company claims. More than 40 percent
of Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability (LOHAS) consumers — the
leading segment when it comes to green attitudes, behaviors and
purchasing — state that they look for proof when a company makes a
claim, according to research from the Natural Marketing Institute.

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