5 Tips on Developing Brand Identity: Aligning your brand with social, environment & political causes
Every great business has one thing in common – a well-implemented branding strategy. Creating a memorable brand identity is essential when trying to gain loyal consumers. What many companies do not know, or overlook, is the fact that a brand identity is not only simply what the company does from an entrepreneurial perspective, but also includes, partnerships and collaborations regarding various social, environmental, and political causes.
Here are our top five tips on how to properly align your brand with various corporate social responsibility measures.
Tip #1 | Understand the Importance of Corporate Social Responsibility
In this day and age aligning your brand with social, environment, and political causes and awareness of corporate social responsibility is more important than ever. Consumers want to see that your brand values more than its bottom line. Promoting and having interest in social, environmental, and political causes can attract a loyal following and consumer base as well as promote business growth.
The reality is, if you are carrying out business today without considering corporate social responsibility, you are already one step behind your competitors. Engaging with social, environmental, and political causes gives your brand a competitive edge, and ensures that you are demonstrating a wholesome brand identity to consumers.
As mentioned in “Five Tips on Product Endorsement Agreements,” the Peggy Sue Collection uses organic plant fiber fabrics to produce its garments, in hopes to promote environmental sustainability. This philanthropic element of the company has distinguished its brand from others. Contrarily, companies that do not take into consideration corporate social responsibility measures face the consequences. Reitman’s, for example, has human rights policies for workers at its suppliers’ factories, but does not appear to have any systems in place to ensure adherence, ultimately impacting the company’s net margins.
Tip #2 | Know your Target Market & Define Your Brand’s Voice ***
Establishing an appropriate target market is the first step to creating proper alignment to various social and political causes. If your business has been generating revenues or been active for many years, you have already established your consumer market. If your brand is newer however, establishing a target market can be done through a few easy steps.
First, segment your market to see the different consumers that could potentially buy your product or service. Market segmentation is the process of dividing the company’s “broad consumer” or business market, into various different sub-groups of consumers based on some type of common factor (i.e. age, gender, interests, activity, etc.). Once you have undergone this market segmentation, look at various elements – such as product, price, place, and promotion – to see how each external factor influences the various markets you have established. Once you find a fit for your company or product that you believe will prove to be most successful, focus in on that specific consumer.
Once you have established your target market it is important to keep in mind that every idea or collaboration that your company embarks upon is catered towards these consumers. Therefore, when looking at the corporate social responsibility aspect of your brand, it is essential that it mirrors the “brand’s voice.” Stating that your brand supports local charities is great. However, if your brand is targeting new mothers with young children, it may be a better fit to align your brand with a social cause that caters to children. Taking note of these details in the positioning of your corporate social responsibility measures ensures that your target market better understands your brand identity.
Tip #3 | Create Original Content ****
Once you have established a link between your target market and social, political, and economic cause, it is essential to communicate this aspect of your business to your consumers. You do not want your brand to come off as inauthentic (more on this in Tip #5!). Therefore, by creating an original means of sharing this information or through collaboration, you are standing out from competitors, showing initiative, and ultimately reaching your consumers.
For example, if revenues from a certain product are being donated to a social cause, write a blog post about the cause or charity and the values that the non-profit stand for. If your consumer is interested in learning more about the cause they are indirectly supporting they know exactly where to look.
Tip #4 | Effective Utilization of Social Platforms *****
Although it is important to collaborate with various causes on a social, environmental, and political level, it is just as important to utilize your social media platforms effectively to get this message across to consumers. There are various online resources (such as Google Analytics and Hootsuite) to determine when the optimal time and day to post is essential. This will change depending on the demographic factors of your target market (i.e. age, gender, location etc.), and will also fluctuate depending on the type of social media platform (i.e. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc.) you are using.
It is important to utilize social media marketing decks to gain a wholesome understanding of how your company is performing. Marketing decks are visual presentations used by marketers or advertising executives to either sell a product of service to a client, or use as a tool to snapshot a given time period in the company’s marketing and advertising program. Many marketing agencies actually utilize social media marketing decks to show their clients when the best time to post on social is (examples can be found through following the sixth link listed at the end of this article). Another helpful tool is to schedule your posts ahead of time to the most optimal time frame to reach your targeted audience. The more consumers know about your corporate social responsibility measures, the greater outcome these collaborations and initiatives will have.
Tip #5 | Authenticity is Key!
Building off the discussion of effective utilization of social media platforms, it is important to be authentic when collaborating with these causes to grow awareness for your brand and the cause. Although you may want to continuously highlight that the employees of your company spent a day picking up garbage on earth day, this continuous highlight is known by the term “green-washing”. Your company does not want to spend more time on money claiming to be “green” through advertising than actually implementing the business practices that minimize environmental impact. H&M has fallen victim to green-washing, through the over-promotion of its Conscious Collection pop-up shops in 2015, and Work Recycle Week in 2016. Once consumers catch onto this deception, it is much more difficult to regain loyalty.
Moreover, the Government of Canada has implemented legal regulations against various deceptive behaviour. Alongside various anti-corruption and anti-bribery efforts, the Government of Canada has implemented legislation regarding transparency of CSR measures within various business sectors (one example being the Extractive Sector Transparency Measures Act). Specific to the retail garment industry, Canada is supporting due diligence and sustainable sourcing of ready-made garments from international suppliers and manufacturers.
The importance of building your brand identity in connection with various social, environmental, and political factors is to further engage your consumer. If your brand truly cares about the cause then the authenticity of your message will be evident.
Written By: Alessia Monastero
As with all Fashion by Law posts, this information is to be used generally, and is not intended to be legal advice. If you have any questions, we welcome you to contact us by emailing [email protected].
*** Further information regarding defining your brand’s voice can be found at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/aaronkwittken/2017/02/10/defining-your-brands-voice-amidst-a-commander-in-tweet/#40bca02f222e
**** Information regarding creating original content derived from: www.lawontherunway.com
***** Further reading on effective social media usage can be found at: https://hbr.org/2016/03/branding-in-the-age-of-social-media
 Information gathered from: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/corporate-social-responsibility-ranking/article22503518/
 Examples of social media marketing decks: https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/best-times-post-pin-tweet-social-media-infographic#sm.0001smwypuvdwdnsq4p1lwn3zn6u4
 H&M’s green-washing tactics can be found here: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/apr/03/rana-plaza-campaign-handm-recycling
 More information regarding CSR and the Government of Canada can be found at: http://www.international.gc.ca/trade-agreements-accords-commerciaux/topics-domaines/other-autre/csr-rse.aspx?lang=eng