IKEA have been providing the UK with flat-packed fun for almost 30 years and their success goes beyond great design and affordable prices. They’ve managed to positively impact the wider world, with their energy efficient light bulbs and sustainably managed forest products. We like them because they meet our need to continually update our homes, but we keep going back because it makes us feel good to support companies with a heart.
Can all businesses replicate this philanthropy?
Think beyond your product
Coca-cola is recognised worldwide as a soft drinks provider, but most wouldn’t regard it as anything other than a billion dollar corporation with a dominant hold on its market. It’s not a brand immediately associated with doing good.
Coca-cola have found a way to use its global appeal to do more than quench thirsts, by offering it’s existing distribution network to transport medicines alongside its bottles, across Africa. ColaLife founder Simon Berry, has shown that a bit of lateral thinking can simultaneously solve a problem and appeal to a corporate giant’s need to be more loved.
Similarly, London charity The House of St Barnabas know that fighting homelessness means more than providing beds for the night, which prompted them to turn their Soho hostel into a private members club. The newly formed hybrid social enterprise and business, now allows them to partner with local restaurateurs to provide former residents with training and employment in the hospitality industry. This new approach meets long rather than short-term needs, simply by re-purposing what they already owned.
Many large companies have HR policies that encourage staff to volunteer in the local community. Accenture, lets employees donate days between projects to social good, such as charity involvement – adding extra hands and positively impacting their brand image.
Anthropologie often opens its doors, to host third parties. Not so long ago, the George Street branch teamed up with the Edinburgh Dog and Cat home to raise funds, and let more people know of their dog friendly company policy. Good for the charity and for the shop, each reached new audiences of potential customers and Anthroplogie additionally differentiated itself, as a retail experience beyond the norm.
None of the examples above would work if they lacked authenticity. Our customer-centric world is littered with thinly veiled do-gooders and only sincere acts will do.
Charities understand this apathy all too well and know they need to be transparent to win support. Wateraid publishes all of its accounts online to show exactly how your money is spent and has seen an increase in donations as a result, far exceeding those of a typical marketing approach.
An outside view
It’s difficult to see the missed opportunities in your own business, so Denholm are regularly asked for our independent views of companies, industries and markets. Think of it as a by-product of our years in global search, which has involved speaking to creative marketing candidates from some of the world’s most innovative organisations. How can we help your business?