By Jan Viskoper, New Business Manager at Organic
In recent years we’ve been inundated with talk around brand purpose. Whether it’s how brands can work on improving their messaging, or the choices they make when it comes to doing good, they are having to think about not only how they make their money, but also where they put it.
Why is this the right step for your business?
If COVID-19 has brought one thing into stark focus, it’s that we live in deeply interconnected and interdependent societies. Pre-pandemic, the pace of the modern world and changes regarding how we interact with each other had led to a weirdly asynchronous and isolated existence for many of us. We have friends and colleagues around the world that we’ve never met in person. We rely on goods and services being delivered exactly when we want them by people we never really stop to think about. Time and space have become more relative than ever before and it is all too easy to believe we’re masters of our destiny.
Then everything changed. Coronavirus put how much we truly rely on systems, processes, and people that had been virtually invisible, into perspective.
In recent months the world became a lot smaller as, all of a sudden, we were met with a very real, and shared experience. The immediate understanding was that so much of our lives rely on so many other people, which was perhaps a little too easy to ignore before lockdown pulled us all up short.
So, as we move through the ongoing crisis it’s little wonder that there is a growing desire for businesses to acknowledge their responsibilities beyond turning a handsome profit – as Jamie Oliver Group recently pointed out. Chris Turner, Executive Director of B Lab UK said, ‘Welcoming the Jamie Oliver Group is particularly exciting because we see the opportunity to build on the trust and leadership of this brand to build on our momentum for change.’
As a B Corporation ourselves, we have seen the importance and benefits of first-hand. There are of course an abundance of good reasons to take the step, and if your brand is looking to make the move (or you’re already a B Corps) then ensuring your marketing is handled by a certified B Corporation just makes sense.
What does it mean to be a certified B Corporation?
The process of becoming a B Corp is very involved, and there is a large number of criteria that applicants are measured against. But at the core, becoming a certified B Corporation means that your business is assessed on its social and environmental performance. This includes your supply chain, how you dispose of your waste, employee benefits and many other areas like charitable giving.
Essentially your business moves from being solely about profit to being about profit, people, and the planet. It doesn’t stop you from making money (ask Patagonia, Danone, or Ben & Jerry’s if it’s hampering them), but it does mean that decisions made in the business need to be seen through this triple-lens. For many businesses that is a huge shift and shouldn’t be underestimated.
Some brands, like Etsy, took the challenge on, yet realised that it just wasn’t right for them and didn’t fit with their corporate structure. To invest the time and dedication needed to become a B Corp, it has to make sense for the brand. If it doesn’t, you’ll struggle to live up to it, opening yourself up the opportunity for criticism and it will become a meaningless and transparent initiative.
It’s important to see the shift to becoming a certified B Corporation as a way to reflect and confirm the fundamental nature of your business, not as simply a way to make your brand seem appealing to consumers.
Why become a B Corp?
Some people might think that the only reason to become a B Corp is for the warm, fuzzy feeling it gives you and your customers. But becoming a B Corp isn’t the same as running a woke marketing campaign about the latest social issue. It is a commitment to aligning your business to be about more than just money. Some of the important reasons brands shift to being a B Corp include:
- It builds consumer trust – Edelman reports that 56%of customers suspect that brands only focus on societal issues to shift more stuff.
- Customers are savvier (and more cynical) than ever. Many studies show that consumers will pay more for goods and services from brands they trust. To win that trust and belief in your brand you need to prove your creds, and being a certified B Corporation can help with that proof as it is externally verified.
- It attracts and retains talent. People need a purpose in their work, and working for a company that you know is doing good is attractive to recruits. Patagonia, a well-known B Corp, has highlighted that their B Corp status is a big part of what attracts leading talent to them.
- It can be good for business – Unilever has eight B Corp brands on their books (including Ben & Jerry’s), which are part of a wider portfolio of sustainable living brands. These brands grew 69% faster than the rest of Unilever’s portfolio in 2018.
You are the company you keep
One thing that is very important to B Corps is building a community of like-minded businesses, to help drive wider change. The stoic philosopher Seneca had a lot to say about the importance of the company that you keep.
“So long as you associate with a person who’s mean and grasping you will remain a money-minded individual yourself. So long as you keep arrogant company, just so long will conceit stick to you…If you wish to be stripped of your vices you must get right away from the examples others set of them.”
By choosing to work with any business who is a certified B Corporation you strengthen your commitment to what the movement stands for. You set an example to your employees, to your business partners, and your customers. And this becomes a virtuous circle to help lift each other. Through these small changes, it can build a better future.
Plus, a marketing agency that is a certified B Corporation will understand more about what your brand is trying to achieve overall, they can help advise and guide you. in achieving your business objectives.