Brands can make a difference by achieving a triple bottom line. Consider it ambitious or altruistic, building peoples’ trust is a certain way to create precious long-term brand value.
2014 has already settled in and many companies are finalising their financial statements for the previous year. Have their desired targets been met? Shareholders are eager to check the bottom line. With cautious optimism, did management deliver the bacon?
This is the reality of many businesses at large as they all do their utmost to achieve that desired bottom line. But while a few quick fixes today can deliver short term gain, what type of investment is being made to secure a better tomorrow? Profit is important, but our obligations towards our people and planet should not be ignored. In other words it has become the business of business to embrace the latest zeitgeist – achieving a triple bottom line.
What is a Triple Bottom Line?
The phrase triple bottom line was first introduced in 1994 by British consultant John Elkington. His point of view was that companies should prepare three different bottom lines. The first bottom line is the obvious profit which without it a company would not be sustainable and rather be without scope. The second bottom line is a people account where the company measures how socially responsible its operations are. The third and last bottom line is a planet account where the company measures how environmentally responsible it is.
Without doubt a business exists for profit. But brands with serious social and environmental credentials create value for the long-term. Global brands such as Coca-Cola, Starbucks, Google, and Volkswagen are examples where shareholder value has sustainably grown thanks to positive global reputation and trust. Conscious capitalism has become not just the standard but the desired norm.
Who doesn’t love a hero?
Thinking out loud what do your customers expect? Don’t you think that they want to see you as a hero and not a villain? Heroes save the day. They represent a force of good. They are the good guys everybody wants to hang out with. They are the ones everybody is fighting over to get their own trendy selfie. Wouldn’t you want your brand to be hero?
Transparency is the first foundation stone to build the peoples’ trust. Customers respect brands that are candid and open in what they do. You need to show that you have nothing to hide. You actually encourage customers to speak their mind.
With social media many brands have taken the big step in putting their neck out there to the wrath of public comments. Some comments can be inconvenient truths but there is no need to be defensive. Better you know the view of your customer than never see them again. Build a bridge. Don’t burn it.
This is the famous motto used by renowned beverage brand Coca-Cola who seriously delivers happiness through profit, people, and planet. According to Interbrand, Coca-Cola was the number one brand for the past 13 years. Just recently last year the brand dropped to third place after being overtaken by technology giants Apple (1st) and Google (2nd).
Coca-Cola is available in over 200 countries, oversees 900 bottling plants, has 10 million vending machines in operation worldwide, and sells 1.7 billion beverage servings daily. Not an easy task to keep all stakeholders happy. But just imagine the ripple effects when responsible changes happen.
Coca-Cola’s mission is to refresh the world, inspire optimism, and create value while making a difference. For the long-term Coca-Cola has set a 2020 vision driving a measurement for success through profit, people, portfolio, productivity, partners, and planet.
The company has invested heavily in setting up community water partnerships. An example is the $800,000 grant awarded to Eco-Gozo in 2011 which is now currently collecting and reusing 4-5 million litres of rain water annually.
Coca-Cola is a leader in the development and adoption of sustainable packaging, energy efficiency initiatives, and climate protection. The company also manages a diverse portfolio of over 300 beverage brands to cater for the lifestyle and needs of its customers.
The brand’s universal theme is all about happiness. From words to action, Coca-Cola is pulling out all the stops to ensure happiness to all stakeholders.
Is it really worth it?
Many business leaders acknowledge the fact that corporate social responsibility is important. Not surprisingly though very few see the real value and find it hard approach CSR very seriously. Following find some benefits to make the case for implementing an effective CSR strategy.
Integrity |Social and environmental responsibility strengthens the integrity of the brand. It shows intent and commitment that the company seriously wants to make a difference. Customers acknowledge and appreciate such efforts – even though a few might not admit it!
Sustainability |Unfortunately many businesses see corporate social responsibility as an unnecessary burden. Some see the glass half empty while some see it half full. Here again CSR initiatives can be opportunities to eliminate waste and reduce unnecessary costs. Efficient business practices can deliver healthier profits.
Longevity |CSR initiatives are a statement if intent to show the brand is here for the long run. The brand is not interested in a quick win. The relationship between brand and customers is for the long term. A relationship which is made to last. The brand is immortal.
Leadership |Successful brands don’t wait for things to happen. They make it happen. They never follow. They lead the way. Therefore to be a leader you don’t need to wait for your customers to expect responsible and sustainable practices. Show you commitment by exerting leadership. Set example and surpass expectations.
Interest |Responsible brands are followed and admired for all good reasons. They are the companies people want to work for. They are the companies that people want to invest in. A responsible path can build valuable equity for you to be taken seriously and be noticed by job seekers, investors, and customers.