Communicating Social Values Improves Brand

Jesse Hopps

Fortune 500 companies have recognized significant benefits by successfully promoting civic virtues such as Sustainability, Community, Sponsorship, Charity, and Environment. Although benefits like improved brand integrity are intangible, they can have a long-term success. Increase brand value by developing a communication plan for the organization's social values.

What is Social Value Messaging?

Social Value Messaging demonstrates alignment of corporate goals with those of the organizations key stakeholders such as customers, employees, and partners. Social Value Messaging programs are not sunk costs, but rather, should be viewed as investments in corporate health.

Following are categories of Social Value Programs:

  • Sustainability
  • Community
  • Sponsorship
  • Charity
  • Environment

Examples of Social Value Messaging programs are abundant. On January 18, 2006, Frito-Lay's brand, SunChips, partnered with the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation by officially sponsoring the Komen Race for the Cure® Series National Volunteer Recognition Program. SunChips Crunch for the Cure is an integrated, multi-channel campaign comprised of event marketing, promotions, online, and affiliate & channel marketing.

Benefits of Social Value Messaging:

  • Improved Recruitment & Retention - employees prefer to work for socially conscious organizations that effect positive social change.
  • Increased Revenues - in competitive markets, social values can mean the difference between a customer choosing you or the other guy.
  • Growth of Brand Equity - this includes brand awareness and increased brand integrity as customers can identify with what your brand stands for.
  • Positioning as Industry Leader - social values were initially competitive advantages before these programs became mainstream. Be a leader.

Action Plan:

  1. Align Company Values with the Communication Plan - review your organizations Mission, Vision, Values, Goals & Objectives. If no document containing this information exists, hold informal interview sessions with key executives. Determine which values will resonate with internal and external stakeholders and make a list of projects that will best promote them.
  2. Obtain Senior Management Approval - communicate with key members of your management team the values you want to promote using social value messaging. Do not forget to identify & leverage areas where your company is already being a good Corporate Citizen.
  3. Prioritize & Develop a Strategy - many social value campaigns fail because the communication plan is too ambitious. Start with Sustainability as a hot example and build upon your success over a longer-term period. There are firms dedicated to the relationship between customers, sustainability, and brands; check out innovative brand consultancy Conscientious Innovation.
  4. Communicate Values Internally & Externally - work with the Web master to put your values on the corporate website. Add these programs to general marketing collateral. Additionally, work with Human Resources to incorporate your social values into training packages for new employees.
  5. Measure Results - obtaining a hard Return on Investment is difficult for programs such as this. Instead consider the Social Return on Investment model developed by the London Benchmarking Group to assess your results.

Bottom Line:

Being a good corporate citizen makes business sense. Drive brand value and improve customer and employee loyalty by capturing and communicating corporate social values.