3 Keys to Designing for Social Impact

Strategy to garner customer loyalty has for some time progressed from simply developing and delivering a better product or service and communicating that product or service in a way that is appealing to the customer. Consumers are increasingly using their purchasing power for social and environmental good and as such, companies have to think more broadly to keep up.

The Superbowl’s TV ads provide as much commentary as does, well… the football game. With the backdrop of Covid 19, a change in Presidency and the ongoing racial justice efforts, the spotlight on brand messaging has never been stronger. Food delivery service DoorDash advertised their cause partnership with Sesame Workshop, the non-profit organisation combining the power of education and media to talk about social issues with preschool aged children. While other brands such as PepsiCo and Budwiser decided not to advertise during the game, instead donating their ad buy slot to efforts combating the Covid 19 pandemic.

It’s clear that the relevance of having a strong social purpose strategy is only gaining momentum and brands cannot afford to be left behind. I would also argue that in order not to be left behind or for efforts to be consider disingenuous to consumers, social purpose strategy must go beyond cleaver advertising. To do so, companies must however broach the subject with much consideration as miss steps can prove costly.

We provide 3 key considerations any company must consider when developing a social purpose strategy.

Customer associations:

Firstly, consider your customer. What is impacting them? What social issues are they concerned with? Take time to go beyond understanding your customer’s buying trends and consider what they really care about.

Questions worth considering;

· Is the social cause likely to be perceived as personally relevant to your target customer?

· Will customers easily see the connection between your brand and the social cause?

Brand Attributes and Capabilities:

Secondly, you will likely find many opportunities for social impact in your customer analysis. Refining those to how they align to your company strategy and what new market opportunities, products or services could exist through engaging with that social issue is vital to maximise commercial and social outcomes.

Questions to consider;

· Does this social purpose strategy reinforce existing brand attributes?

· Will this social purpose strategy help open up new markets?

Stakeholder Enthusiasm:

Finally, consider your internal stakeholders. Shareholders, employees and partners. Aligning with a social purpose can enhance engagement and improve performance if management takes time to understand what’s important to its people and can communicate the impact in a meaningful way.

Questions to consider;

· Can our brand have demonstrable impact on this social cause?

· Will our key stakeholders embrace and advocate for this social cause?

A poorly defined social purpose strategy can hurt your brand but a well considered social purpose strategy can greatly enhance your competitive advantage for many years to come.

James McHugh – Head of Corporate Social Impact at Apricot Consulting

James McHugh is a qualified social worker and is currently completing a Master of Social Impact at Swinburne University. He leads the corporate social impact department of Apricot Consulting which seeks to help organisations with their corporate social impact programs, social and environmental impact strategies and not for profit and social enterprise engagement and relationship management.

If you’d like to get in touch, you can contact him at james.mchugh@apricotconsulting.com.au

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