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Can corporate brands prove their purpose?

The calamity caused by the financial crisis left a distrust of big corporate brands in its wake. As a result the most elusive things for global brands to amass are trust and respect, in a world where transparency is expected and employees and customers can turn to Twitter to voice their feelings in a flash.

The Global RepTrak 100 uncovers the top corporations that have earned trust and respect from consumers. The report uncovers the ‘emotional bond between companies and the general public across 15 markets’, and reveals that the top ten brands are having to enhance their reputation each year to maintain their position as the premier companies of ethical behaviour.

The brands are measured on citizenship, governance, workplace, innovation, leadership, performance, and products and services. Specifically, citizenship, workplace, and governance contribute most greatly to the reputation tracking. The top ten are fairly consistent, perhaps due to the companies’ commitment to responsible operations in these three benchmarks. Google, Rolex, and Microsoft have the highest reputations amongst consumers, along with The Walt Disney Company and Lego.

Google may come as a surprise after their UK tax row. The agreement between Google and the UK tax authorities to pay £130m in back taxes has been widely criticised as too lenient. But it is also known for its consistent high business performance and engaging workplace, much like Apple is known for its innovation and leadership. One of Google’s guiding principles, ‘you can make money without doing evil’, delineates the way they conduct their business; providing fair and equal opportunities to all users, whether you believe them or not.

The private sector has increased brand partnerships with charities to enhance their image . But whilst researching our upcoming book on Brand Purpose, we’ve found it surprising that while the business case for brand purpose is increasingly well documented, the social impact isn’t.

While sustainability reporting is commonplace, annual reports don’t always adequately share the benefits of brands on society. In 2008, EY announced only about 50% of companies reported the effects of their social programmes.

Part of The Purpose Collaborative, enso.co, have created a new metric called Brand World Value. The index shows peoples’ perceptions of brands’ purposes and how motivating they are, resulting in how willing people are to publicly support them. This measurement differs from B-Corporations in that B-Corps measure the strength of brands’ ‘social impact activity’ rather than ‘how well a brand resonates with what people care about’.

The Edelman Trust Barometer reports that 45% of consumers attribute businesses’ contribution to the greater good as the reason their trust in business has grown. There is a seismic shift in the way to measure your brand’s value. A shift from shareholder to social value. In that context, we believe more businesses must take Unilever’s lead and report profit, sustainability and social impact together in the future.


To celebrate International Day of Charity on 5 September The Team is hosting a TeamTalk debate with brand specialists across multiple sectors, and producing a book on the era on Brand Purpose – in just 48 hours!  For more information on this event and The Team’s  Brand Purpose offer, contact  fionamagill@theteam.co.uk







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