A consistent corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategy is at the heart of every successful business. As consumers, we trust brands that act responsibly, which influences buying behaviour. But it is often unclear which companies are responsible, and which just say they are. So how can B2B brands ensure they are noticed for the right reasons? By making sure their CSR policy and commitment to ‘social change’ runs through every level of their operations.
What is brand responsibility?
Brand responsibility is more than just the products or services you’re selling. It’s the values and ethos that are reflected throughout the organisation, from the CEO to the shop floor. To do this, it’s crucial that brands think about the full supply chain, rather than seeing CSR as a separate entity of the business. Think about sustainability as being fully ingrained in company culture.
A starting point
So, you’ve committed to making social change, now what? Change starts from the very top of the organisation, with its founders. Issues that affect the business need to be outlined and echoed across the whole company, to ensure a consistent message.
With brand reputation on the line, compliance is key – among all employees and stakeholders. This is especially true for companies with different locations. It makes sense, therefore, for more than one team to be responsible for the CSR strategy. Combining the thoughts and values of people from the wider company doesn’t dilute the message, it can enforce it – giving strength to your argument.
Here are five tips for implementing an effective CSR strategy in your business from the top down:
- Develop an agenda – what drives your business? Ask your employees what matters most to them and develop those ideas into a meaningful agenda. Their understanding can help shape your strategy.
- Set targets – establish specific aims for the company to achieve. Putting targets in place means the team is held accountable if they’re not reached.
- Write it down – a brand book is a great way to make sure everyone is on the same page. Here, the CSR strategy can be outlined – ensuring consistent messaging across the company.
- Training – spend time with your employees and develop their knowledge about CSR. This helps to level the playing field and encourage people to feel invested in the idea.
- Transparent communication – make sure the team is continually updated on the initiative and how it is shaping up. Any milestones can then be celebrated together, or any future changes to the plan can be discussed and amended.
Once everyone within the company is fully behind the CSR strategy and actively encourages progress, action and impact will soon follow. Moreover, that’s when businesses can build brand trust, both internally and externally.
Practise what you preach
Brand responsibility should not simply be viewed as an add-on to corporate policy in the company handbook. If a CSR strategy is properly implemented at every level throughout the business, there is just one consistent message that needs to be communicated. In marketing terms, a fully integrated CSR strategy will speak for itself, as the branding will be evident externally as well as internally.
For more tips on how to ensure brand responsibility for your business, and to discover why authenticity is so important for success, download our guide, now available on The Knowledge.