When profits go before anything else a company can loose its sense of ‘purpose’ it no longer stands for anything meaningful or follows a code of ethics. When its only focus is to build its bank account at the cost of everything else it loses trust, respect and ultimately its reputation.
One of the best examples of a ‘soul-less’ company was best portrayed in the hit ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ where Leonardo DiCaprio takes us into the unethical wild world of businessman, Jordan Belfort who built his business around the 80’s guiding principle of ‘greed is good.’ This extreme sport of corporate greed led to the arrest and downfall of the real-life corporate villain and his phantom investment banking company Stratton Oakmont, which made millions defrauding its investors.
While this graphic movie and true story provides an entertaining insight into an extraordinary world of corruption, it also serves as a very real reminder of the hypnotic effects that money, greed and power, can have and how quickly they suffocate ethics when they are left to rule alone.
While Belfort worshiped the seductive trance of the dollar and nothing else – today, putting money, profits and greed before all else would send a company crumbling to the ground as if it was made from sand.
OF THOSE TO WHOM MUCH IS GIVEN, MUCH IS REQUIRED
While Jordan Belfort built his business with sand and water and lined its walls with greed and fraud, the most successful companies today are building theirs with the titanium strength of purpose, values, ethics and community support.
Instead of the 80’s mantra “greed is good” corporates need to take a more biblical approach to their business practices and consider, “of those to whom much is given, much is required’
Just think of Whole Foods Market, who has built its brand on a simple philosophy of ‘whole foods, whole people, whole planet’ and in doing so has managed to become one of the world’s fastest-growing retailers.
DO GOOD AND TALK ABOUT IT
Consumers want to hear from companies that are doing good in the world. They want to hear their good news stories. Even the study, Euro RSCG Worldwide: The Future of the Corporate Brand study revealed that 73 percent of consumers think it is a positive thing for businesses to publicise their CSR (corporate social responsibility) activities, charitable contributions and other good deeds.
Social responsibility is one of the criteria consumers judge brands. They value companies that take bold stances and earn some degree of ownership over an issue. Think: Toyota and alternative energy.
There are all sorts of approaches a company can take to involve people in its socially and eco-conscious activities. It can be as simple as donating a portion of a product’s purchase price to a cause or a complex as involving customers in Avon’s two-day, thirty-nine mile Walk for Cancer.
GIVE A SHOE
TOMS shoes makes it easy for consumers to be “part of the solution”. Every single customer is a charitable donor by default. In 2006, Blake Mycoskie, a thirty-year-old entrepreneur and former professional tennis player, was playing polo in Argentina when he was struck by the sight of children without shoes – thus TOMS shoes was created!
TOMS would produce espadrille-style shoes made largely from sustainable materials, such as hemp and recycled bottle tops. For each pair sold, a second pair would be donated to a child in need in its ‘one for one’ business model. It has since given more than 60million pairs of shoes to children in Argentina, Africa and the United States.
TOMS purpose goes beyond profits and well beyond greed, as it helps customers to become personally invested in a cause. It educates visitors about a debilitating disease called podoconiosis, or endemic non-filarial elephantiasis, which is marked by extreme swelling, ulcers and deformity of the feet and legs; the condition is entirely preventable by wearing shoes. An issue he helps solve.
So when you are battling with the dilemma of greed know that the most rewards derive from companies who follow the all-encompassing mantra “To those that much is given, much is expected.”
TIPS TO BUILD A SUCCESSFUL BRAND THAT DOES GOOD
- Support a few social issues that you care about
- Find issues that are of concern in the communities where you do business
- Select causes that have synergy with your mission, values, products and services
- Find causes that have potential to support business goals
- Find causes that your staff, customers and stakeholders care about
- Select causes that can be supported long term i.e. The Body Shop with its ‘Against Animal Testing’ campaign.