I’ve had a bit of an absence from the blogosphere lately. Not for lack of inspiration and desire to pontificate on the quirks of consumer culture – but because I have been busy trying to figure out a way to save the world. Okay, so perhaps it’s a bit Narcissistic to think that a humble cultural strategist can save the world. Then again, I resemble that remark. But here’s the thing – so do the swelling ranks of consultants, brand strategists and corporate leaders who have been awakening to realize the power of business and brands to create positive social change in the world.
I have spent the bulk of the past year whilst in a bit of career transition trying to figure out how to more overtly begin applying my skills as a brand strategy consultant and cultural researcher more directly to the practice of helping my clients make the world better through the power of their brands. I’ve always had a secret superhero identity under my blazer, t-shirt, jeans and Converse. It’s the wonder girl who sneaks the “better for you” customer values vitamins into the “how do we sell more soda” strategies for my clients. But it’s time to bust through the costume and wave my true colors. I’m officially coming out as a do-gooder!
But I’m not the only one.
Anyone who doesn’t live underground in a bubble devoid of communication with the outside world has seen the turning tide in global brands and purchase behavior. We have seen the rise of small players like Warby Parker and Tom’s Shoes whose purpose from inception as ideals based brands was to help provide resources to those in need.Web-based entities like Etsy and Kickstarter provide platforms for individuals to live their dreams and establish their own small businesses instead of succumbing to life in a cubicle cage.
Jay Coen Gilbert and Bart Houlahan, formerly co-founders of the And1 basketball lifestyle brand, in a quest to find a way to serve the world through creating a better way to do business, established B-Lab and the The B Corporation Certification of which there are thousands of global companies (among them brands like the aforementioned as well as Patagonia , Ben and Jerry’s and Green Mountain Energy ) that have been proven via rigorous metrics that they are contributing to a better for the world.
Even global corporations have begun to see the light of the “Triple Bottom Line” and retool their business and brand strategies to keep up with the growing imperative placed on big corporations by their customers to use their powers for good. A great example is Project Sunlight, an initiative spearheaded by global packaged goods giant, Unilever, to empower youth to help youth activate their power to solve some of the worlds biggest problems – like eradicating hunger.
So what’s an anthropologist got to do with it? Well – I’ve teamed up with another superhero cultural strategist and we have relaunched our cultural strategy agency with a very distinct purpose in mind. We will use our powers for good – and help our growing roster of global clients do the same. Because as it turns out (and it’s about time to let the secret out of the bag), doing business that makes the world better is actually better for business.
Companies who are run based on ideals and who employ sustainable and socially forward business practices actually grow faster and are more profitable. Don’t believe me? Read the studies. Books like Grow by former Procter and Gamble General Manager, Jim Stengel show proof based on rigorous research that ideals-based brands who apply rigorous socially forward standards are those who reap the fastest rewards.
In an excerpt from B Corp Handbook, the authors play hardball, citing the following for those who are more motivated Wall Street:
“For example, Goldman Sachs reported that ‘more capital is now focused on sustainable business models, and the market is rewarding leaders and new entrants in a way that could scarcely have been predicted even fifteen years ago.’ Goldman Sachs found that there has been a dramatic increase in the number of investors seeking to incorporate sustainability and environmental, social and governance factors into their portfolio construction.
In a report that echoes this sentiment, the International Finance Corporation found that the Dow Jones Sustainability Index performed an average of 36.1 percent better than the traditional Dow Jones Index offer a period of Five years.”
Therefore, pardon the recent conspicuous absence while my partner and I have been in “Pinky and The Brain” mode. But rest assured I have been on a worthy mission in my mouse-house.
Look forward to more blogs that focus on those elements of enlightened consumer culture. The ultimate form of Narcissism is, after all, enlightened self interest. So lets all get interested in how we as individuals can use our power to make the world a better place.
If you would like to know more about what I’ve got going on when I’m busy not writing blogs, you can find me here.
“Setting an example is not the main means of influencing others; it is the only means.” – Albert Einstein