The Story of Brand Citizenship
“In our new world of and/also, business must evolve to be a partner advocating for the things customers, employees and other stakeholders care about. Thereby creating mutual benefit and exponential growth for everyone.”
brand \ˈbrand \ noun – the human face of a business or product
with which we form a relationship
citizenship \ˈsi-tə-zən-ˌship \ noun – the qualities that a person is expected
to have as an active participant in society
and responsible member of a community
Brand Citizenship evolved from the grassroots up. It wasn’t something I set out to create. The model materialized over time, and the five steps of the ME-to-WE continuum started coming into view through exploratory and quantitative research with more than 6000 people.
As early as 2011, participants in my company’s CultureQ project told us they wanted brands to provide solutions to their personal ME problems, needs and dreams and their generalized WE worries about the economy, the world and the planet. Yet, in reality, the concepts that underpin the model are the culmination of so much more.
The five steps of Brand Citizenship represent the values my parents and education instilled in me; what I’ve learned about business, marketing, and brands over the years; the lessons I’ve gained through being a volunteer and advocating for fair and equal treatment of women and people in need; my vision for business as an institution that contributes to society; and the energy and passion I’ve brought to my work from the very start.
Brand Citizenship reflects a simple notion, one that I have believed in and sought to promote in my brand consulting work since the late 1990’s: that when aligned from an authentic purpose (or higher order raison d’être), brands have the power to transform an organization and progress the world – and, in doing so, increase loyalty and profit. In the old world of either/or business was seen as the enemy – taking advantage of employees, overcharging consumers and wasting precious resources. In our new world of and/also, business must evolve to be a partner advocating for the things customers, employees and other stakeholders care about. Thereby creating mutual benefit and exponential growth for everyone.
Brand Citizenship also embraces the notion that work does not have to be the enemy of life, as the concept of work-life balance advertises. As human beings we seek purpose in life. Indeed, studies have shown that having more meaning in your life determines your happiness. Without a doubt, satisfying work that places us in a state of flow can add meaning as well as stimulate happiness through a sense of achievement and feeling of contribution. The five steps of the ME-to-WE continuum of Brand Citizenship guide companies to meaningfully engage with employees as much as they do customers and other external stakeholders.
My intent in writing DO GOOD and sharing ways to activate purpose through Brand Citizenship is to help companies set off on the pathway to align purpose and profit, provoke more meaningful discussion, and accelerate a movement already underway. Please join me on the journey to inspire more brand leaders and managers to embrace a more sustainable model of business.