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  • Posted by: Carolyn Ray on Wednesday, September 3 2014 05:43 PM | Comments (0)

    Corporate citizenship

    With 2015 quickly approaching, it’s a perfect time to ensure your corporate citizenship strategy supports your 2015 business goals to build measurable brand value.

    At Interbrand, we define Corporate Citizenship as the perception people have of a company’s positive contribution to society based on the way in which it treats the core elements of its business: Its employees, customers and suppliers; the communities in which it operates; the governments that influence its operations; and the planet it relies on for its existence.

    Our global Corporate Citizenship practice can bring you the best insights from around the world, specific to your sector or industry. There is no question that Corporate Citizenship, when aligned with business strategy, drives brand value, particularly in B2B environments.

    WATCH:Corporate Citizenship as strategic driver of business,”which explains why Canadian companies need to examine their corporate citizenship strategies: 

    What this means in Canada

    In Canada, our brands face constant scrutiny by a new generation of environmentally and socially conscious consumers. Rather than seen this as a challenge to profitability, businesses should take this opportunity to align their Corporate Citizenship strategy with their business goals to build measurable brand value.

    SLIDESHARE: The Case for Corporate Citizenship in Canada 

    ARTICLE: Corporate Citizenship Lessons: 5 Questions with Interbrand's Carolyn Ray 

    Getting Started

    Corporate Citizenship goes beyond traditional CSR initiatives and one-time fundraising activities. It need to be woven into the fabric of the business. Here are the ways to get started with your strategy.

    1. Corporate Citizenship Assessment

    Analyze your organization’s current Corporate Citizenship strategy and how it aligns with your brand and business goals. We focus on six Brand Strength dimensions that directly connect to the activation of your Corporate Citizenship strategy (Authenticity, Relevance, Differentiation, Responsiveness, Clarity and Presence) – and can include desk research, qualitative and quantitative techniques. This determines the performance of your Corporate Citizenship planning thus far and how it aligns with your brand and business strategy for optimizing brand value.

    2. Corporate Citizenship Benchmarking

    Next, do an audit of your key competitors’ Corporate Citizenship strategies and initiatives and best practice case studies of in and out of category brands. This is an important step that identifies the gaps and opportunities that can and should be addressed. The competitive audit will also help you understand what strategy will be most authentic and differentiating for your brand.

    3. Corporate Citizenship Creative Evaluation

    Assesses the visual and verbal elements currently being used to express your company’s CC strategy and initiatives. These components of your plan must be appraised to define creative excellence and optimal alignment with your corporate identity. Keep in mind that your strategy also requires an appropriate level of differentiation from your business.

    4. Corporate Citizenship Driver Study

    Conduct an analytical study of the key drivers of customer purchase behaviour and brand consideration across relevant stakeholder groups. This effort identifies and prioritizes what issues are most relevant to key constituencies in influencing their choices as it relates to social responsibility. The output can inform a targeted approach to your Corporate Citizenship strategy, tactics, messages and overall experience.

    5. Corporate Citizenship Brand Playback

    This last step allows us to listen in on real-time conversations and observe real-world behaviours among relevant stakeholder groups with a focus on Corporate Citizenship. This research distills the most relevant public perceptions of your brand’s CC strategy, identifies opportunities, and measures actions and activities over time to optimize your strategy and messaging.

    More brands are working hard to make their Corporate Citizenship practices more intentional and inspired. Increasingly, companies are openly communicating about their social and environmental initiatives and this needs to continue. At Interbrand Canada we recognize that our national brands have traditionally shied away from promoting their CSR activities, but it’s time that our corporations start sharing their stories and respond to the demands of our socially conscious society.

    Carolyn Ray is the Managing Director of Interbrand Canada. You can follow her on Twitter at @TheCarolynRay.

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  • Posted by: Interbrand on Thursday, August 21 2014 05:39 PM | Comments (0)
    Month of Service

    During July, Interbrand united for its Month of Service as part of Interbrand Inspired—our global foundation. This year, Interbrand provided pro-bono consulting services to inspiring non-profits and social-impact startups, in addition to offering hands-on volunteering in local communities.

    As more companies work to make their Corporate Citizenship practices more impactful and visible, consumers are becoming increasingly conscious of what brands are doing to give back. The line between a brand’s performance and its commitment to sustainability efforts is blurring. Entrepreneur explores the rise in consumer’s expectations for companies to do good. Research shows that billions of dollars in brand value are tied to participation in Corporate Citizenship initiatives. For that reason, Interbrand, the world's leading brand consultancy, is expanding its Corporate Citizenship practice to Canada, where national brands are increasingly coming under the scope of environmentally- and socially-conscious consumers. Carolyn Ray, Managing Director of Interbrand Canada, addresses the growing need in the Canadian marketplace for brands to have a transparent Corporate Citizenship strategy.

    Corporate Citizenship may go by many names, but one thing is for certain, a company's long-term financial success parallels its stance on social responsibility. A new article in The Guardian discusses five trends that show the importance of corporate citizenship as a business practice. CSR is here to stay, proving to be an invaluable business asset among companies that are incorporating social responsibility into their core values.

    As sustainability and efforts to reduce environmental impact take center stage, brands like General Mills are working towards transparency by insisting that its suppliers take measures to cut greenhouse gas emissions and water usage. CNN Money reports General Mills also plans to purchase its ten most frequently used ingredients from sustainable sources by 2020. Now that it has launched a new series of environmental commitments, Kellogg’s also plans to do the same, according to Environmental Leader. General Mills and Kellogg’s join other companies like Coca-Cola and Mondelez that are setting increasingly ambitious sustainable sourcing goals.

    Additionally, newer companies uphold a responsibility to both make profit and remain socially responsible as part of their founding principles—a new type of business model. The New Yorker looks at Warby Parker and several other companies that are designated as “B corporations,” which are for-profit companies that commit to achieving both CSR and business goals.

    To find out more about the value of Corporate Citizenship, be sure to check out this month’s installment of Closing the Gap!

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  • Posted by: Interbrand on Monday, August 18 2014 01:33 PM | Comments (0)

    Month of Service 2014

    In keeping with its annual tradition, during July Interbrand united for its Month of Service as part of Interbrand Inspired – our Foundation. Across the globe, Interbrand provided pro-bono consulting services to inspiring non-profits and social impact startups, in addition to offering hands-on volunteering in local communities. In total, Interbrand hosted and participated in more than 20 activities and positively affected the lives of many.

    The gift of generosity is a powerful expression of humanity and when a corporate community embraces altruism, the true character and spirit of the brand is revealed. Corporate Citizenship at Interbrand is our demonstration of appreciation for what we have and what we can give to others in pursuit of making the world a better place.

    From the Americas to Australia, Interbranders left a lasting impact on the organizations it partnered with and the communities in which we operate. The effects were felt in New York, where one team worked with Futures and Options to help underserved youth express their own personal brands – advice that Futures and Options knows will “help in their professional growth no matter what field they pursue.”

    The volunteer opportunities also support Interbrand’s collaborative and world changing internal culture, providing employees with the ability to think creatively and grow closer through shared experiences. Our Madrid office dedicated their time to a local community center, and as Ángela Rodrigo expressed, “it was a life changing experience for all of us.” In working with Student Reporter, Associate Consultant Jeremy Shapero noted, “our work was an exciting opportunity to flex beyond our traditional roles and teams."

    During Month of Service, Interbrand partnered with the following non-profits and start-ups: Career Gear; Friends of the Children New York; Minds Matter; Domestic Violence Project; Rooftop Films; Bite Size Learning; Friends of Bezalel; Student Reporter; Charity Miles; Pencils of Promise; Sustainable Health Enterprises (SHE); GrowNYC; Futures and Options; Per Scholas; Upwardly Global; ABC Life Literacy; The Library Project; and Envision.

    For more photos from Interbrand’s Month of Service, visit our Facebook page here!

    About Interbrand Inspired
    Interbrand Inspired is Interbrand’s very own commitment to Corporate Citizenship. It is a not-for-profit foundation leveraged to promote the power of education around the world. Interbrand Inspired provides our employees an opportunity to give their time and talent to our communities through partnerships with educational organizations.

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  • Posted by: Interband on Friday, July 25 2014 11:38 AM | Comments (0)

    Corporate Citizenship

    From more sustainable sourcing to social innovation, companies are doing more every day to create positive social change and sustainable solutions—and consumers are increasingly “rewarding” brands that take social responsibility seriously.   

    Super Market News reports that American supermarket chain, Safeway Inc., has made great strides in its efforts to sustainably source all fresh and frozen seafood by the end of 2015. The brand is already more than halfway to its goal, proving its leadership as a sustainable seafood retailer. In addition, Safeway has saved over 75 million gallons of water, eliminated 300 million plastic bags, and donated 72 million pounds of food.   

    Speaking of plastic bags, the infamous question of “paper or plastic?” may soon be a thing of the past. According to PackagingDigest.com, standard materials are being replaced with non-toxic, lower weight, biodegradable, reusable and recyclable alternatives. Also, bio-plastics are showing a growth rate of more than 20 percent with production expected to increase from 1.39 million tons in 2012 to 6.18 million tons by 2017. Why? Because packaging influences purchasing decisions—and more consumers are showing a preference for sustainable materials and design.   

    Picking up on the real-world solutions trend, Eco-Business reports that more organizations are moving beyond donations and philanthropy. Instead, they are becoming actively involved in projects that benefit business and have a positive social impact. Whether showing a focused commitment to a particular issue through a corporate foundation or embedding CSR into company operations, CSR programs and foundations boost employee morale and enhance corporate reputations. And the choice does not have to be one over the other—a greater CSR strategy can work simultaneously with a foundation.   

    As these efforts illustrate, businesses are doing a lot to give back—but are they doing enough? According to the 2013 UN Global Compact-Accenture CEO Study on Sustainability, as Sustainable Brands reports, two-thirds of CEOs admitted that businesses could be doing more to address sustainability challenges. Although CEOs see engagement with consumers as the single most important factor motivating them to accelerate progress on sustainability, they are often out of step with what motivates consumers to make responsible purchasing decisions.   

    To engage more effectively with consumers, companies must close the gap between performance and perception, according to Interbrand’s annual Best Global Green Brands report. Commenting on the report, Vikas Vij of JustMeans.com said, “The consumers of today hold the world’s top brands to an exacting standard and expect these brands to act responsibly.” As Interbrand’s research indicates, reducing the gap between socially and environmentally responsible business practices—and consumer perception of those practices—is critical to building brand value.   

    To find out more about the value of Corporate Citizenship, be sure to check out this month’s installment of Closing the Gap!

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  • Posted by: Meghann Fraser on Thursday, July 24 2014 09:50 AM | Comments (0)

    How leading companies advance their business and brand by creating shared value  

    Canadian Tire Jumpstart

    The world now faces an increasingly complex set of challenges: growing income inequality, climate change, and food scarcity, to name just a few. While governments and NGOs continue their work in these areas, the corporate sector is now standing up to help address these issues, recognizing that the world is moving towards a new center of balance where societal impact is just as important as profits. Leading companies around the globe are acting to create meaningful change that not only advances business objectives and the world in a sustainable way, but also continually strengthens brand value. 

    However, a review CSR reports, even among leading Canadian companies, reveals that many organizations are simply going through the motions, either aiming for minimum targets for regulatory compliance or recasting standard business practices through a politically expedient lens. In both instances, these organizations are missing valuable opportunities to create positive social impact, enhance the long-term viability of their business, and share more compelling and differentiating stories with the marketplace. By shifting focus from compliance to creating shared value, these companies can strengthen both their business performance and brand.    

    What is Shared Value?  

    Shared value is the idea that a company can create measureable business value by addressing social issues that directly intersect with its business. The notion goes beyond philanthropy or sustainability efforts to identifying specific challenges that will grow the company’s profits while creating positive outcomes for society. Michael Porter and Michael Kramer, who coined the term, identified unique ways companies can create these shared value opportunities, including product innovation that focuses on societal benefits, efficiencies in the supply chain that reduce environmental impact, and supportive industry relationships in the communities where a company operates.    

    Many leading companies have realized the benefits of creating shared value, such as GE. Since launching its Ecomagination business in 2005, the company has earned over $105 billion in revenue from associated products and services. Focused on building innovative solutions for today’s environmental challenges, the Ecomagination business has grown at twice the rate of the rest of the company. Walmart has realized similar success with its own shared value initiatives. In its efforts to reduce product packaging and optimize delivery routes, Walmart has lowered its carbon emissions while saving $200 million in costs—a clear and dramatic example of redefining productivity in its value chain.    

    Shared Value and Brand Value  

    But beyond driving revenue and improving margin, shared value initiatives provide companies with the opportunity to build brand value. No matter what the goal—from enhancing employee clarity on the company’s purpose to differentiating the brand or improving perceived authenticity and relevance—creating shared value fortifies the attributes that strengthen B2B or B2C brands. The result is a brand better able to drive choice, enhance loyalty, and ultimately increase brand value.   

    Shared Value and Internal Clarity  

    A key tenet to any strong brand is an internal sense of clarity. After all, how can employees be responsible for delivering a brand they don’t understand? This includes being aligned with what the brand stands for—its purpose in the world—so they can engage fully and deliver on its promise. Studies show that companies enjoy significant benefits from highly engaged employees, and frequently see uplift in every business performance indicator: profitability +16 percent, productivity +18 percent, customer loyalty +12 percent, and quality +60 percent.    

    Canadian outdoor recreation outfitter, MEC (Mountain Equipment Co-op), understands its purpose in the world (inspiring Canadians to be active outdoors) and motivates employees accordingly. But to fulfill its mission, MEC understands it must go beyond providing equipment and play a role in conserving the outdoor spaces where people use MEC’s gear. Through its involvement in local communities and outdoor industry associations, and its integrated business and sustainability strategy, MEC embodies shared value. It is building supportive industry clusters that create, develop, and innovate opportunities within its market, while ensuring employees understand the brand’s purpose.    

    Shared Value and Differentiation  

    Canada’s leading telecommunications brands have struggled to differentiate and drive consumer choice beyond price, but one brand stands out for making significant strides to separate itself from the pack. With the launch of Bell’s Let’s Talk initiative in 2010, the company has made progress to put an end to the stigma surrounding mental health by raising national awareness and committing $62 million in funding. While Let’s Talk is playing a vital role in bringing attention to one of the most widespread health issues in this country, it is also helping Bell engage with consumers in a more meaningful way—on the very devices they provide to them. This effort differentiates the brand in a way that has been proven to drive consumer choice and loyalty.  

    Shared Value and Authenticity  

    To convey authenticity effectively, a brand’s communications must consistently align with its actions. For instance, as Canadian financial services brands send messages of partnership and support to customers, consumer debt levels head to a forecasted all-time high in 2014— largely due to easy access to credit. One exception is National Bank.    

    With its ClearFacts initiative, National Bank provides consumers with a plethora of free advice to help Canadians make more sound financial decisions today and tomorrow. Guidance spans from how to best manage daily expenses, such as cell phone data usage, to longer-term considerations like buying a home and planning for retirement. By creating a service that supports the financial health of consumers, National Bank is strengthening its credibility and the authenticity of its brand.    

    Shared Value and Relevance  

    In Canada, childhood obesity is expected to have significant impact on industries such as healthcare and insurance, yet one brand taking on the issue represents a different sector altogether. In 2013, Canadian Tire launched a national advertising campaign bringing broader awareness to childhood obesity, encouraging parents and kids alike to embrace sport and outdoor activity to live better. Canadian Tire extends this effort far beyond ad campaigns by continuously supporting its Jumpstart initiative. Founded in 2005, Canadian Tire Jumpstart enables financially disadvantaged kids to participate in sports by helping to cover the cost of registration, equipment, and transportation. These cumulative efforts notably enhance the brand’s relevance with Canadians by driving interest and engagement in sport, and ultimately, health and well-being.      

    The concept of creating shared value is equally relevant to the non-profit sector. In focusing on new ways to partner, non-profit organizations along with their corporate sector donors are transforming traditional corporate philanthropy into shared value opportunities. One NGO taking on this approach is Plan Canada. “We’re finding more and more opportunities to engage with our corporate partners, moving beyond donations to engaging their employees more holistically,” says Paula Roberts, Executive Vice President, Marketing & Development at Plan Canada. Not only does this approach support Plan Canada’s work in various regions across the globe, but it also strengthens employee engagement levels within its corporate partner base, a proven metric to enhance both productivity and profitability within a business.    

    In creating shared value, these brands demonstrate the opportunity at hand: to be leading Corporate Citizens while strengthening their organizations’ bottom line and brand value. By stepping outside category norms, each has shown how doing what is beneficial for society can, in turn, be beneficial to the business and brand. As more companies move from compliance to embracing shared value in their strategic business planning, we will hopefully see an exciting evolution in category norms altogether. 

    Meghan Fraser is a Director of Strategy for Interbrand Canada. You can follow her on Twitter @meghannfraser.

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