DO SOMETHING GOOD AND TELL PEOPLE ABOUT IT
Corporate Social Responsibility or Social Investment have been two terms bandied about in board rooms for a few decades now. Given South Africa’s massive social challenges this is understandable. Foundations have been set up and have distributed billions of Rands supporting educational, social, health, environmental, small business development and job creation initiatives. To date, however, companies have not leveraged these substantial investments to positively enhance their reputation and brands. The belief seems to be that doing good and being a good corporate citizen is not something that should generate a return.
I believe this is an antiquated approach. Why? Because it is common cause that positive sentiment drives economies and markets, thereby creating much needed jobs and opportunities for South Africans. The media and their content have a profound influence on sentiment and consumer mindset, but sadly headlines are consistently dominated by negative stories which have the opposite effect. Based on my decades of experience in the marketing industry I believe that if you do something good you have a responsibility to showcase and tell people about it. This not only enhances brand equity and goodwill, but it also has the multiplier effect of inspiring and challenging others to do the same. And I am not alone in this thinking as a number of my colleagues at one of South Africa’s leading multi-experience marketing agencies, Matriarch, echo the same feeling.
Positivity feeds positivity and good news drives sentiment, creating jobs and stimulating growth. CSI is an opportunity for companies to include their socio responsible attitude and actions in brand and product communication. Broad stakeholder value replaces narrow shareholder interest. A responsible attitude towards society and the environment makes business: more competitive; more resistant to economic slides; and more likely to attract consumers, investors and the best employees. This is why Matriarch has a dedicated division that focusses on CSI by strategically identifying and creating relevant, meaningful initiatives that not only do good but build brand equity and even drive sales. I believe that credible brand communication results from brand promises being carried out and reflected in reality.
Over the years we have assisted clients like Woolworths in doing this successfully through their educational programmes and My School initiative. We have also worked with numerous other businesses like Standard Bank, Beiersdorf and Unilever in identifying relevant developmental and societal needs and executing successful campaigns to address them – winning hearts and minds in the process.
Now with the Covid-19 pandemic in play, there has never been a better time to create meaningful CSI platforms that can assist those in need whilst getting customers involved and bringing them closer to your brand. Marketing spend can also be leveraged to support and stimulate small business development thereby symbiotically creating new customers for brands.
Let’s follow our presidents lead and ensure that the concerns of the nation are the concerns of the corporation.