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A still from a Patagonia produced video, Thrawn. A snowboarding stands on snow, looking down at snow-less peaks.
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  2. The influence of brands for social and environmental impact

The influence of brands for social and environmental impact

Michelle Pavey

Strategy Director

In the modern landscape, brands are more than just the products or services they offer. They have the potential to be powerful agents of change, driving social and environmental impact. Brands act as the face and voice of a company, and when used effectively, they can inspire, motivate, and lead people towards a better future.

Brands as social change catalysts ๐Ÿ”—

Brands have a unique ability to influence and shape societal norms and behaviors. As they are often viewed as leaders in their respective industries, they can set the tone for how businesses should operate and interact with society. For instance, brands like Tonyโ€™s Chocolonely and Ben & Jerry’s have long used their platforms to advocate for social issues such as income inequality and climate change. By taking a stance on these matters, they not only enhance their brand image but also raise awareness and inspire action among their consumers and the broader public.

An unwrapped Tony's Chocolonely bar. The bar is on top of the inside of the flattened wrapper. The wrapper has details about how Tony's are aiming to make all chocolate slave-free.
Tony's Chocolonely use their strong brand presence to advocate for an end to slavery and forced labour.

Brands and environmental stewardship ๐Ÿ”—

Brands can also be powerful advocates for environmental sustainability. By integrating eco-friendly practices into their operations and products, they can demonstrate to consumers and competitors alike that profitability and environmental responsibility can go hand in hand. Brands like Who Gives a Crap and Patagonia are perfect examples of this. Their proactive environmental stances have not only benefited the planet but also their bottom line, showing that ‘going green’ is good for business and the planet. And most importantly, they give back, setting a benchmark for how companies can behave when they have good intentions central to everything they do.

A man and a woman fill jerry cans with clean water from an outdoor tap.
Who Gives a Crap donate 50% of their profits to help build toilets and provide safe drinking water around the world.

Harnessing the Power of Storytelling ๐Ÿ”—

Brands are master storytellers. They create narratives that resonate with their audiences, often inspiring them to take action. When these narratives are focused on social and environmental issues, they can spark significant change. Whether it’s a story about fair trade practices, reducing carbon footprint, or advocating for equal opportunities, brands use their storytelling prowess to inspire their audience and drive meaningful action.

Building Communities ๐Ÿ”—

Brands also have the power to build and nurture communities. These communities are often made up of like-minded individuals who share the brand’s values and are driven to support the causes it champions. Through these communities, brands can mobilise a large group of individuals to contribute to social and environmental causes, amplifying their impact.

Greenpeace protesters in the street, most have placard and some hold a large banner. The placards and banner all read: 'Listen to the people, not polluters'
Greenpeace bring communities together to take action

Influencing Policies ๐Ÿ”—

Brands, especially those with significant influence, can use their platforms to lobby for policy changes that support social and environmental causes. By leveraging their resources and influence, they can advocate for legal and regulatory changes that could have far-reaching impacts.

Two brides positioned on the right of an image, both looking left and smiling. One is leaning on the others shoulder. Some crossed out text reads 'Marriage is explicity defined as being between a male and female'. Underneath the text a red star highlights the words 'repealed 2014'.
Since 1989, Stonewall have campaigned for freedom and equity for LGBTQ+ people in the UK with real impacts such as the repealing of Section 28 and the 2014 Marriage Act

The future of brands: beyond profit ๐Ÿ”—

As society becomes more conscious of social and environmental issues, the role of brands is also evolving. Brands are no longer judged solely on their products or services but also on their contribution to society and the environment. This shift presents both challenges and opportunities for brands. By leveraging their influence, they can drive societal change, promote environmental sustainability, and embody corporate social responsibility. In this light, the power of a brand lies not just in its ability to generate revenue, but also in its potential to make a difference in the world.

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