I was asked to think about how a brand’s social initiatives affect reputation.

Two points.


Why are we in business at all? I think it should be for the greater good. I think the core business should undeniably ‘be good’. And I think the business should undeniably ‘do good’.

‘Being good’ is creating useful, quality things that last. Or delivering quality services that uplift and enhance lives.

‘Doing good’ is creating solid, well paid jobs. It is treating all people well. And its redistributing profit to effect positive ripples through communities and causes.

But (back to the question) doing this is not to chase reputation. It’s just because it’s the right thing to do. Reputations are built as a consequence of what we do. Reputation follows.


The second point is an unfortunate truth. You need to remember the difference between motivation (your leading edge proposition) and gratification (trailing edge proposition) with your brand building and communication.

Great, differentiated, distinctive, desirable products and services is leading edge – this is why people buy. Lead with this. This is their motivation to buy from you.

The good you do (doing good) is trailing edge – this is consolidation. This is not the main reason people buy. It is the reason they feel good about having bought. Or it gets them over the buying line at the point of purchase. Or it gives (further) fuel to word of mouth. Don’t lead with this. This is the gratification they feel having bought from you.

If you get things the wrong way round, you’ll sell fewer things. As I say, it is an unfortunate truth.

Nonetheless – it is true.

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