Brand Citizenship: Bringing Companies Closer to Customers and Causes
Customers, like companies, aren’t static. Every so often they undergo huge changes. Gone are the days of erratic buying and mindless spending. Customers have evolved; they think carefully not only about their purchases, but who they’re purchasing from.
Recent statistics show that 92% of consumers want to do business with brands that share their values and support good causes. Why? Because it allows buyers to purchase the product they want while supporting a cause they care about. Consumers have quickly grown to expect more from corporations. As government resources become more limited, consumers are increasingly looking to brands to fulfill social responsibility roles.
What happens when you combine business with a do-good plan and growing societal expectations? You get brand citizenship.
Where Profits Converge with Cause
Brand citizenship occurs when companies actively unite business strategy, philanthropic efforts, and operations to create a brand that’s socially responsible and, at times, politically engaged. It goes beyond adding value to the consumer’s personal life; brand citizenship adds value to society as well, and provides a win-win solution for all.
When brand citizenship is in full force, it puts consumers in the driver’s seat and gives them control not only over their own actions but those of companies, too. It works to create a shared sense of responsibility between organizations and their markets, allowing them to build a socially-responsible future that helps causes near and dear to hearts everywhere.
Sometimes confused with brand purpose, brand citizenship is an overall way of doing business as opposed to purpose-driven motives behind a company. When comparing the two, brand purpose is viewed as the foundation of a house — it’s the purpose behind the brand and what everything else is built upon. Brand citizenship, on the other hand, is the roof. It covers the whole house and stands strong as a brand’s overarching social impact ideal. Instead of identifying why your business exists, brand citizenship aims to create trust and belonging with consumers supporting causes or movements that have positive social impact and fulfill a societal need outside of the business.
Creating Your Own Version of Brand Citizenship
We believe we’re going to start to see brand citizenship become the norm. Consumers are demanding it, and companies who fail to meet those demands will see a sharp decline in consumer loyalty.
What does your business stand to gain from embracing this new concept?
For starters, brand citizenship brings with it transparency and accountability, these are never a bad thing when it comes to your business. You’ll also strengthen the equity of your brand while gaining some credit for the efforts you put into social or environmental programs. When customers find brands that mirror their own values, it results in a more loyal customer base, which in turn creates brand ambassadors that promote your business, regardless of incentive. Thoughtful brand citizenship further results in more engaged employees and other stakeholders, as well as builds a more positive reputation for a brand.
If you want to start engaging in brand citizenship, you can do so in a few different ways: through organization, product, and experience. Brand citizenship works best when all of these mesh together well.
 Organization: At an organizational level, you want to create teams that strive to deliver a comprehensive brand experience that includes your brand’s social impact plans. Promote internal policies and practices that align to the social impact mission and vision for your brand, and encourage employee participation wherever possible. Asking employees for regular feedback and/or including employees in the brainstorming and planning sessions will also help build a greater level of commitment.
 Products: When it comes to products, it might not be the time to change your product line entirely, but finding ways to produce more sustainably, or supporting local, smaller business through production are a couple of ways that you can begin to create brand citizenship ideals through your product offering. You can go further by incentivizing purchasing behaviours by offering a “buy one, give one” option to consumers (similar to the TOMS model).
 Experience: Whether your company sells products/services in-person or online, you can create experiences for your audience that share your brand citizenship ideals. It could be as simple as inviting your audience to attend a socially conscious event, or asking customers to write their local government representatives about an important social issue. Better yet, flip the mic over to your audience and seek their input on social causes they would like your brand’s support on. No matter what, always encourage two-way communication that creates a positive experience for your customers.
Brand citizenship goes beyond the concept of corporate social responsibility. It unites consumers with sustainable products, and it invites engagement that holds deep societal benefit. It’s a holistic way of conducting business, generating sustainable profits, and creating a loyal fan base that will help your business grow and prosper. More than that, it aligns to your brand’s greater purpose and provides citizens with a reliable partner to create positive social impact in their community.
If you’d like to chat further about brand citizenship and how your brand might start to get more involved, send us a line email@example.com.