THE ROLE OF CSR INBUSINESS POST-COVID-19
by Tony Chambers
Corporate Social Responsibility.
Do we collectively remember a time when these words resonated more strongly than right now? For quite some time, I think it’s fair to say that CSR has not been viewed by business as a requirement – merely good practice. But I believe right now, we should all view it for what the ‘R’ in CSR means – our responsibility. It really is our collective and individual duty – and that includes business too – to care for people, society and our planet.
From our current collective global crisis, there is emerging a growing desire for a better way to live and do things.
Whether that’s for the environment, or human rights, or economic and social – all feel under immense threat and disruption.
There is a tangible mood and movement to make things happen right now.
Questions are being asked and Governments being pressed with ever more persistence and impatience.
It also has shone a light of opportunity for real significant change across all these spectrums.
Disaster prevention. We’re all witnessing the biggest disaster in all our living memories – right before our eyes.
Planet and environment protection – think Australia 2019, fast-melting glaciers, destruction of Amazon rainforests, unheard of temperatures in the Arctic.
The overwhelming desire for social change – Black Lives Matter and institutional racism are high profile current examples.
It also feels like many of these challenges to planet and society are inter-connected, and often driven by injustice and bad government, and a lack of inter-governmental engagement and strategy.
So the question grows… how can we all help
contribute to real tangible positive change?
For today’s conscious consumer, increasingly aware of the impact of both their purchases and the brands they are buying from, it is becoming more critical for businesses and brands to have a robust CSR reputation.
These are powerful statistics which surely illustrate the importance of CSR for business and brands in 2020.
Design and branding have a powerful role to play in helping businesses play their part in positively influencing and implementing real CSR change.
Design has in fact, a unique ability to recognise and understand consumer, market or social change, and be a catalyst for business to think and act differently and appropriately to reflect this change.
How can a design and branding agency help Business to embrace
and harness CSR?
Well it starts by getting to the heart and soul of your business.
Why does your company exist? What is it’s real purpose?
It’s not about what you do, it’s about why you do it.
Does it have a genuine desire to do good and influence positive change?
This does not mean your business should not be ambitious or be profitable and successful.
In fact there is very clear evidence that companies who really embrace CSR at the heart of their company culture and vision, are much more successful in the long-term. As would be illustrated by the above GlobalWebIndex insight.
The role of Design as a specialist external partner to business, will help you identify your true purpose, and will help you create a CSR brand pillar integral to your overall business culture, proposition offer and planning.
Design Agencies are skilled and adept at identifying and really understanding your clients and end-consumers.
And with this knowledge and insight, understanding what really matters to them, and how business could make their lives better and richer.
This is where the opportunity arises to create brand purpose and differential which can be powerfully aligned to your business – who you are and what you do.
A purpose-led CSR brand strategy should be bold, inspiring, simple and memorable – for your people, stakeholders, partners and clients/consumers.
Once your business has a real, meaningful and authentic brand purpose and CSR strategy, the Design Agency will help you firstly communicate this to your own people, bringing them with you on your journey; then powerfully communicate to your markets and end consumers.
The Design Agency can help you express, engage and communicate your CSR mission in different ways…
Bringing your people with you on the right mission.
Employees increasingly want to see their employers and business take ethical and positive values and actions in our communities and in the world.
Your CSR brand strategy can instil a powerful and positive culture in your company and a sense of pride – bringing management and people together with a common purpose; creating long-term loyalty and commitment to the common good.
Sustainability – reducing environmental impact of our businesses
Food waste, recycling, carbon emissions, plastics; the pursuit of achieving zero waste; creating a circular economy that benefits all including the environment.
Doing good and giving back.
We’ve seen some extraordinary examples of this by many companies and brands over the last 3 months. Can it be endemic and part of our normal ways of doing business going forward?
Giving, caring, consistent acts of generosity. Society and consumers recognise brands and businesses who demonstrate these positive actions as part of their purpose, and are much more likely to be loyal to them than to competitors.
Having a clearly defined ethical position which guides your business behaviour and decision making. Honesty, transparency, clarity on what you have to offer and what value it brings to people and society. A desire to do genuine good as part of running a successful company at the core, and a clear recognition of what constitutes bad business behaviour. A genuine belief that business organisations have a social and ethical responsibility, and that it’s not all about profit.
So why does CSR brand strategy matter to your business going forward?
It will build brand loyalty. As consumers increasingly seek brands who have a clear purpose to do good.
It will in turn drive revenue. Consumers will increasingly pay more of a premium for socially conscious brands with purpose.
It will build deeper connections with customers. Creating long-term loyalty and with your people who will have pride and purpose in all that they do.
Failure to embrace brand purpose and CSR could ultimately be very bad for your business.You may simply no longer remain competitive. With customers increasingly turning away from your brand (disengagement), and with this – reputational damage.
As we all begin to adapt to the effects of Covid-19, there is a greater path to which we have a real responsibility to make an impact of change for the good of our planet and our people. With great design it allows us to express the power of words and images, carefully aligned to an authentic set of business brand values – totally in tune with our times, aspirations and values of a clearly defined and understood audience. Helping business be successful by doing the right thing. We all have the responsibility to create a better future.
Tony Chambers – co-founder and director at Eat With Your Eyes
Tony co-founded Eat With Your Eyes in 2009, and has 30 years experience in the creative design sector. He is a passionate and highly experienced strategic design and branding consultant, motivated by doing great work which adds real value to client business and end-consumer lives. Tony believes great design must be informed by the latest consumer trends and insight, and always deeply aligned to every client’s unique personality and culture.
Image Source –
HEADER – Miami Downtown, FL, USA – MAY 31, 2020 – Tverdokhlib – Shutterstock
NHS – London, UK. 4th March 2017 – # OUR NHS rally – John Gomez – Shutterstock
BLM – LONDON, UK – JULY 16 2016 – David Mbiyu – Shutterstock
Ben & Jerry’s Resist – benjerry.co.uk
Oatly – It’s like milk but made for humans – Oatly.com
Patagonia Wall Mural – Patagonia
Feed NHS – Leon.co/feed-nhs