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Today, being a good corporate citizen is the best
and correct line of behaviour, of existence in the
world of businesses a...
Book Summary 2
Becoming a Citizen
Brand is the Best
Way of Building an
Excellent Reputation
requires immediate responses, ...
Book Summary 3
Becoming a Citizen
Brand is the Best
Way of Building an
Excellent Reputation
constitute a specific manageme...
Book Summary 4
Becoming a Citizen
Brand is the Best
Way of Building an
Excellent Reputation
4.	 Reputational value: embrac...
Leading by
reputation
©2014, Corporate Excellence - Centre for Reputation Leadership
A foundation established by major com...
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Becoming a citizen brands

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Becoming a Citizen brand is the best way of building an excellent reputation.

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Becoming a citizen brands

  1. 1. Today, being a good corporate citizen is the best and correct line of behaviour, of existence in the world of businesses and brands. It’s much more than CSR, since CSR is still viewed as an addition to business, an obligation to return to the society what has been received from it, to treat stakehold- ers well, while the real objective should be to do things well, in the broad sense of this expression. Such is the key argument of the book titled Citizen Brands, written by Michael Willmott, the British expert on new trends and consumer behaviour. The book argues that companies need to put interests of the society at the heart of their business – not as a way to whitewash their activities, but as a way to respond to the needs of the society. The focus implies understanding social concerns and attempts to resolve them by offering new solutions in the form of companies, businesses, products and services. Consumers and the Butterfly Economy New communication technologies together with the growing consumer confidence and requirements driven by extensive personal and collective consumer experience accumulated in the last few decades result in consumers’ greater power, independence and capacity to take decisions. They use these opportunity to defend their legitimate interests and make their voice heard. In this sense, we can speak about certain volatility and chaotic distribution of information and power. Other phenomena such as declining brand loyalty and a growing role of “word of mouth” both physically and virtually, intensify the trend described above. These factors make it difficult for companies to structure their activities, leading them to retire traditional theories of strategic medium- and long-term planning and to adjust to the ever-changing environment that If a company understands and shares the concerns and aspirations of its stakeholders, it may be able to develop brands that would be competitive on the markets and sustainable over time. How to do it? Be more proactive and effective in communication with the stakeholders than before, and know their concerns as citizens. L04/2014 Becoming a Citizen Brand is the Best Way of Building an Excellent Reputation Public Affairs Book Summary This document was prepared by Corporate Excellence – Centre for Reputation Leadership, among other sources, and contains quotes from Citizen Brands by Michael Willmott first published by Wiley in 2003 and reprinted in 2012.
  2. Book Summary 2 Becoming a Citizen Brand is the Best Way of Building an Excellent Reputation requires immediate responses, embracing what came to be called management of complexity or chaos management. That’s why, in the context of brands, today we can speak about the “butterfly consumer”, i.e. a consumer who makes choices in accordance with his or her needs, interests and values which become increasingly important in the decision- making process. It means that the choices are the result of these needs, interests and values – this is manifested in such trends as ethical and responsible consumption. Existing uncertainty has a clear advantage: it offers more possibilities and opportunities for new businessesandatthesametimefavoursthoseexisting businesses that decidedly stake on innovation, enabling them to achieve a competitive advantage unthinkable in the past, when everything was more predictable, planned and closed. Butterfly consumers, in turn, are part of the superior biological ecosystem called “the butterfly economy” – an economy where information spreads at breathtaking speed, where a minor cause may lead to a major effect, where all parts of the globe are interconnected and where reputation is essential. Today the quality of products and services is important as never before, but reputation and ethical behaviour are becoming key as well. The Power of Choice Is our society of choice undergoing a boom? Can companies compete with a power like this? Liberalization of trade and internationalization of markets that started in the 1980s, led to a significant increase of consumers’ power in the last few years, not only in the area of food production, but also in such sectors as telecommunications, the mass media or power generation. Only between 1982 and 2000, the number of products available in large retail stores multiplied by eight thanks to imports from other countries and new varieties developed not only to satisfy different tastes but also to meet different needs resulting from greater sophistication of people’s everyday life. But choice has limits, and this limit is set or determined by consumers themselves when they demand simplification and rational structuring of the offer, a trend that is currently gaining popularity with many companies, starting with those operating in the distribution sector. And in this respect, citizen brands have a lot to say, for such dimensions as ethics and citizenship are becoming more and more important at the moment of making a purchasing decision, both on the side of the company, because it should try to comply with these criteria, and on the side of the consumer, at the moment of making the decision. A range of environmentally friendly solutions and products is a good illustration of this trend. In this context, brands acts as consultants to decision-makers, in the sense that they incorporate the criteria that are considered by consumers as part of the value proposition. In the past, by incorporating other criteria that were not in line with social responsibility values, brands engendered cynicism still perceptible in the consumer-brand relationship. And by staking on ethical values brands may recover their relationship with the consumers. A Model for Citizen Brands There are some characteristics and initiatives that highlight the citizen profile of brands and thus “In the new butterfly economy, ethical and responsible behaviour plays an essential role in building reputation” Graph 1: Increasing choice in supermarkets. Number of different products available Source: IDG Account Management series 45.000 40.000 35.000 30.000 25.000 20.000 15.000 10.000 5.000 0 Sainsbur’s average lines per store Tesco (total lines across all stores 1982 1984 1986 1988 1990 1992 1994 1996 1998 2000
  3. Book Summary 3 Becoming a Citizen Brand is the Best Way of Building an Excellent Reputation constitute a specific management model: on the one hand, it includes direct effects, such as specific labour, environmental and social policies; and on the other hand, indirect effects which highlight the brand’s socially responsible character from the business viewpoint and ultimately result in trust and reputation. There are five types of direct effects: 1. Environmental initiatives: increased efficiency of processes thanks to awareness of the business’s impact on the environment. 2. Labour conditions: measures aimed at educating a motivated and committed workforce united by corporate culture and project objectives. 3. Relations with suppliers: greater trust and cooperation resulting in mutual benefits. 4. Involvement with the local community: investment in the local area and cooperation with associations and local entities. 5. Ethical focus: helps to reduce protests organised by activists and secure more active and loyal customers. At the same time, indirect effects lead to an improvement of perceived quality and a generation of the so-called trust reserve that translates into higher brand loyalty and contributes to an improvement of reputation. The citizen brand model emphasises company values and consumers’ desire to connect to a brand as a result of daily work related to the topics that are truly relevant for them. That’s why corporate citizenship is becoming the foundation for corporate brand management. Citizenship, together with trust and transparency, is an essential part of brand value, and according to Citizen Brands author Michael Willmott, its role will keep growing. Therefore, instead of trying to persuade, brands should aim to engage and fulfil their promise. Conclusion: 10 key features of a citizen brand A citizen brand is a proactive brand that increases the chances for commercial and business success. So what are the characteristic features of citizen brands? 1. A focus on social issues: business action is developed around a social cause, which becomes the centre of the strategy and positioning. 2. Global vision: attention to the problems of a general and global nature. 3. Local focus: cooperation with the local communities in order to create value from the start. “A brand’s citizenship attitude results in an improvement of perceived quality and a generation of the so- called trust reserve that translates into higher brand loyalty and contributes to an improvement of reputation” Graph 2: A coherent model of citizen brands. Schematic representation Source: Michael Willmott/Future Foundation Citizen brands Direct impacts More motivated workforce Better/more trusted supplier relationshps Improved market/business intelligence Increases perceived quality Greater loyalty = higher value customers All aiding greater innovation Creates ‘goodwill’ bank Active purchasers/ fewer boycotts More efficient processes Builds reputationviruse Indirect impacts
  4. Book Summary 4 Becoming a Citizen Brand is the Best Way of Building an Excellent Reputation 4. Reputational value: embracing values that have a citizenship component and turning them into reputational objectives. 5. Total transparency: being completely open and honest as demanded by the company’s stakeholders. 6. Intellectual capital: special focus the relational and human aspect, such as talent, opens great opportunities for a company. 7. Salary control: control of excessive remuneration of directors, one of the most sensitive topics for a company’s reputation. 8. Maintaining healthy competition: avoid monopolies and oligopolies which lead to reputational losses even after their disintegration. 9. Business leadership: culture and vision should be powerful enough to guide the CEO. 10. Crucial condition: being a citizen brand is necessary but insufficient. It is critical to continue improving the quality of products and services.
  5. Leading by reputation ©2014, Corporate Excellence - Centre for Reputation Leadership A foundation established by major companies aiming to excel in the management of intangible assets and facilitate promotion of strong brands with a good reputation and a capacity to compete on the global markets. Our objective is to become the driving force, which would lead and consolidate professional reputation management as a strategic asset, fundamental for building value of companies around the world. Disclaimer This document is a property of Corporate Excellence – Centre for Reputation Leadership developed with an objective to share business knowledge about management of reputation, brand, communication and public affairs. Corporate Excellence - Centre for Reputation Leadership is the owner of all rights related to the intellectual property on images, texts, drawings or any other content or elements of this product. Corporate Excellence - Centre for Reputation Leadership is the holder of all necessary permissions for the use of the document and therefore any reproduction, distribution, publishing or modification of the document without its express permission is prohibited.
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