Best Global Brands 2011


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1 Coca-Cola71,861 ($m)
2 IBM69,905 ($m)
3 Microsoft59,087 ($m)
4 Google55,317 ($m)
5 GE42,808 ($m)
6 McDonald's35,593 ($m)
7 Intel35,217 ($m)
8 Apple33,492 ($m)
9 Disney29,018 ($m)
10 HP28,479 ($m)
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Top Brand - Best Global Brands 2011

How to Effectively Communicate Your Corporate Citizenship Strategy

By Do Yeon Kwak

Corporate Citizenship

"We believe that the winning companies of this century will be those who not only increase shareholder value but increase social value at the same time." – Carly Fiorina, Former Chairwoman and CEO of HP and Honorary Fellow of the London Business School

This comment made by Carly Fiorina’s underscores how important it is for businesses today to uphold their responsibilities as members of society. Customers now have high expectations of brands, and businesses are competing to win the hearts and minds of customers through good corporate citizenship. And yet the majority of organizations have yet to figure out how to effectively—and strategically—communicate their corporate citizenship initiatives. Below are some tips to help companies create an effective corporate citizenship communication strategy.

Involve your customers

Each year, many businesses are engaged in social contribution activities, pouring in huge resources and time. However, how many of them will consumers remember? To create a memorable and effective campaign, it is important to find a way to involve your customers.

The Gift Car campaign by Hyundai Motors deserves attention for this reason. The car giveaway, first initiated in 2010 as part of Hyundai's donation program,  has both a social component and a corporate citizenship component. Through TV commercials and an ad campaign, Hyundai introduced several talented people undergoing unfortunate circumstances and urged viewers to send a positive message to them either on Twitter or its website. If each campaign hero received more than 100 cheerful messages in 30 days from participants, then Hyundai promised to donate a car to the person in need. Eleven-year-old blind pianist Ye-Eun, whose parent’s were in need of better transportation to take her to her piano lessons was one of the most popular campaign heroes. Hyundai’s Gift Car campaign is a great example of a memorable corporate citizenship effort that deeply resonated with customers.

Act quickly in times of need

Quick action is also imperative to communicating corporate citizenship efforts effectively. For example, timely help when it matters can have a huge long-term impact. Companies with a direct link to a natural disaster shouldn’t hesitate in getting involved, as these are all crises that touch everyone on a deep and lasting level.

When the Sichuan province of China, experienced an 8.0 magnitude earthquake and found itself at the center of global attention, Doosan Infracore, an industrial machinery company, quickly secured every excavator possible to help with the reconstruction efforts. In so doing, its corporate vision, “create infrastructure to enhance the quality of life and future value of the mankind,” was realized in, a real and visible way. Doosan Infracore’s quick action was extremely instrumental in reconstruction efforts after the disaster and set an example for other companies.

Another example of a business that reacted quickly in a time of need is Softbank, the Japanese IT conglomerate. After this year's devastating earthquake and tsunami, Softbank quickly provided a data processing service for the Japanese companies that had to put a halt to corporate activities due to the damage. Softbank’s move helped restore some of the stability to the country's economy and also helped boost its own image.

Make corporate citizenship core to your brand

Any corporate citizenship initiative is useless unless it is realized through continuous activities. In other words, corporate citizenship should become a part of the brand itself, deeply intertwined with the brand promise. For example, GE’s ecomagination, which has been put into practice since its launch in 2005, is an all-encompassing vision that has become GE’s model for future growth. Through ecomagination, GE has been developing diverse solution technologies for improving the environment and then applying them to products.

Organizations can’t get involved with just any cause—they must choose the best strategy for their business and customers. Instead of philanthropic work and donations that offer no meaning to the business, a company should set up a corporate citizenship strategy built around an organization’s corporate identity and philosophy. Additionally, their corporate citizenship initiatives must engage customers directly—whether through direct participation through events, via social media, or quick and immediate involvement with a cause that has an immediate impact on customers’ lives. If businesses keep these three strategies in mind, they will only see the good will directed toward the brand multiply.


Do Yeon Kwak is a consultant for Interbrand Seoul specializing in brand strategy. Do Yeon’s uses her holistic insights into brand strategy and corporate citizenship to help clients maximize value creation.