Broadcasting your values

Why having a corporate conscience makes good sense for your brand

by Penny Lorber, Founder and Creative Director, Ethera
Nov 14, 2019

Every choice a company makes affects their brand and offers a viewpoint on what a company deems valuable. It is to everyone’s benefit to make these choices consciously and intentionally, as now more than ever, values are yoked not only to a company’s survival and evolution, but to the wider global community’s.


This is happening, in part, because we are witnessing the breakdown of old world paradigms and are in the midst of figuring out new ones. We feel it in the socially and politically-charged nature of everything around us. Power structures are changing, the patriarchy is being dismantled, democracy is being tested, gender norms and sexual identification are being redefined, racial equality is being demanded, the climate is screaming, and humanity is begging for empathy. The collective is experiencing this turbulence in tangible, everyday ways causing customers to care what companies stand for before making a purchase, and making every business a social and political brand.

It’s not enough to have a good product, to be the most affordable, or to differentiate on performance. Actions and values must reflect the times. It is time to evolve or die.

Business Decisions = Brand values

As business decisions are broadcast and spread rapidly through the internet, the news, social media and the stock market, things that once stayed out of the consumer’s eye are now front and center making every business decision a brand choice. Even choosing to not make a choice is a choice with the potential to be relayed to the world.

Some are approaching this with strategies that incorporate outward facing proclamations in advertisements. Nike has done a great job with this as seen in their support of Colin Kaepernick and his prominent feature in their 30th Anniversary ‘Just Do It’ campaign, as well as in their support of Serena Williams during and after her pregnancy.

It can also be done through quieter internal business decisions that express values that include equal pay, consideration of one’s carbon footprint, office layout for handicap accessibility, etc. Apple exemplified a version of this with the design of their new headquarters and its emphasis on sustainability and employee wellness. The park runs on 100% renewable energy and incorporates a 100,000 sq. ft. employee fitness center.

Alternatively, companies can also choose to flout the law, engage in “locker room” culture and hold growth and stockholder earnings as the only metric for success, disregarding employee and community well-being. But, as this goes against the cultural trajectory, this is not a long-term path for success. As we’ve seen with individuals and institutions taken down with tarnished reputations, there may be no recovery from perceived bad behavior. At best, the cost to rehabilitate the brand image and re-build trust with consumers will be exorbitant and prolonged.

Doing good

Rest assured, do-good companies are profitable. Patagonia has grown to a billion dollar global brand while publicly advocating for the environment. They’ve gone as far as temporarily redesigning their home page to a statement in stark black and white: “The President Stole Your Land.” They also filed a lawsuit against Mr. Trump in a fight for the protection of Bears Ears National Monument. Their public stance of their values is attributed to helping their company grow. In a February 2018 article, Fast Company quotes CEO Rose Marcario saying, “Doing good work for the planet creates new markets and makes [us] more money.”

What this all boils down to is that companies have run out of time and excuses to disregard civic, social and moral responsibility. Choices and values are being broadcast to the world and consumers are holding companies accountable. No one can sit on the sidelines any longer. It’s time to consciously devise strategies that are for the betterment of the world.

Image by Nike. Nike’s 30th Anniversary ‘Just Do It’ campaign featuring Colin Kaepernick
Image by Nike. Nike published this image after the President of the French Open said the catsuit outfit would ‘no longer be accepted.’ This outfit was designed to help Serena with blood clots that arouse after her pregnancy.
Patagonia’s temporary redesign of their home page to protest President Trump reducing the size of national monuments.