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Impact Branding: Fully Explained

Social impact branding – Impact Branding – is an approach that more and more companies are taking as they look to connect with meaning to be more effective.

It’s about more than just your logo and name.

It’s about telling your brand’s story so it stands out by implementing social responsibility as part of your brand activities and your brand story.

If you have a cause or social mission that you care about, why not make it something that helps you build your business and spread your message.

Whether you’re an established brand, an entrepreneur, or an individual, social impact branding not only contributes to social good and helps you increase your brand awareness and content marketing, it also increases your brand value.

What Is a Social Impact Brand?

A social impact brand – also known as an Impact Brand – is one whose products or services have social issues or environmental benefits.

Social impact brands are companies that link their values to their products and services while contributing to society. They aim to solve social problems by creating a connection between your business and the common good.

Truly successful companies need to make a profit, but social impact brands also have a higher purpose: they use a portion of their profits, operations, or purpose to improve the quality of life for others.

They can operate on a global scale or in local communities.

Their focus on the common good doesn’t preclude profitability, but it does require that every decision be made with both criteria in mind.

Related: What Is the Purpose of Branding

How Social Impact Strengthens Businesses and Personal Brands

Social impact is in the air and is something that all individuals, businesses, and governments need to embrace.

More and more people are calling for companies to make a positive difference in the world as part of their business operations. We call it ‘corporate social responsibility – and it’s an idea that will change the way big companies do business in the future.

When you get right down to it, social impact is a way of behaving in which companies try to balance the needs of shareholders with those of the stakeholders who’re affected by their actions:

Employees, suppliers, clients, communities, and local governments. When these companies thrive, they create value for shareholders, employees, and consumers – and meaning for all stakeholders in the community.

The idea isn’t new; socially conscious companies have been around for decades.

The difference, however, is that many companies are beginning to see social impact not as an obligation, but as a competitive advantage that can help them attract and retain talented employees, retain customers, improve their bottom line, and benefit their communities. The business case for social impact has never been stronger.

As mentioned on my company website:

The 21st century is a commitment to sustainability in all aspects of a business. The new generation of consumers supports those who make a difference and wants to know that companies care about the environment, health, and diversity. 70% of Millennials would spend more money to buy from a brand with a purpose. 92% say it’s important that brands support social causes, and 79% look for companies that make a difference.


Benefits of Building a Social Impact Brand Strategy

Digital marketing on social media is worthless for your brand building if there’s no emotional connection with your audience.

An effective social impact strategy can help you build a strong brand and impact marketing.

Economic Value and Importance

The purpose of business is to create economic value and meaning. However, there’s growing evidence that a company’s economic value isn’t measured by sales and profits alone. Instead, the measurement of economic value needs to be expanded to include social and environmental impact (eg: climate change).

Purpose-driven companies exist in all industries, from Fortune 500 companies to small startups. In many cases, this allows companies to differentiate themselves from their competitors.

Brand Value

Social impact branding is a new trend in the corporate world. Companies like Ben and Jerry’s, Lego, and Patagonia have had success with it. The idea behind social impact branding is that it builds brand loyalty and trust with consumers because they know the company cares not only about its bottom line but also about their well-being.

The companies involved in social impact branding have realized that they can do good while doing business. They can help and make money at the same time by increasing customer satisfaction, product quality, and brand awareness. Social impact branding isn’t only a feel-good campaign, but also a very smart marketing strategy that’s proven to be very successful for some companies.

Related: What Do Social Impact Consultants Do

Employee Satisfaction

Employees feel good about companies whose business models are socially impactful. They can connect their work to a higher purpose, which increases their productivity and job satisfaction. It also gives them a reason to stay with the company for the longer term. Employees who care about their company’s mission are more loyal and more engaged in the company’s daily tasks.

Social responsibility is one way to attract new talent. Companies that make a positive contribution to society are more likely to attract, hire and retain high-caliber employees than those that don’t.

Social Commitment

Many companies are good at promoting their products and services, but they often forget that they have a larger role to play in their communities.

In fact, clients care more about how a company or brand makes them feel than the actual product or service itself.

That’s why social impact branding is often the missing link between the customer experience and the bottom line. With social impact branding, you can’t only connect with your target audience, but also create social value and make an impact on the world around us. This, in turn, makes your clients feel good about supporting your brand.

Brand Positioning

Social impact brands are more than just a company that donates to charity. They’re companies with a mission – to create progressive social change.

Social impact brands don’t just talk about changing the world – they do it.

They’re proof that it’s possible to change lives for the better while running a successful business. When people see the positive impact on society and realize you’re still a successful brand, perhaps even more successful than before, they’re not afraid to show the world what they stand for, and they use their platform to encourage others to do the same. That gets others to follow their lead.

Examples of Social Impact Initiatives

Social impact initiatives are a way for a company to make an impact on its community, country, or even the world.

Partnerships With the Community

Some companies get involved in their community by partnering with nonprofit organizations to support them through donations or volunteering.

For example, Nike has partnered with Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) across the country to install fitness equipment at club facilities. This partnership helps Nike reach a younger audience while giving community members access to resources they mightn’t otherwise be able to afford.

Sponsorships and Donations

There are many ways to do this. You can donate money or used office supplies to a local school or sponsor an event and put your name on signs so everyone knows you’re helping.

Free Goods and Services

Many nonprofits rely on donations from businesses to get the supplies they need to do their work. When you provide them with free products or services, your company’s name becomes associated with the good deed and you may receive support from customers who recognize your efforts.

Think Green

Social initiatives are a way for companies to show that they care about the environment and want to reduce their carbon footprint. In some cases, these are large initiatives with a big budget, but in many cases, small businesses can also be part of such programs.

There are many ways to integrate social initiatives into your business.

One important idea is to create an integrated plan that shows the relationship between your company’s main activities and social projects.

Examples of how you can integrate environmental activities into your business:

Employees can recycle the cups and paper that are used for beverages and food in common areas.

You can train your sales team on how to deal with clients and how to build customer loyalty without having to drive or fly to meetings when you don’t have to.

Talking to a public relations person can also help you spread the word about your social impact initiatives and the positive impact your company is contributing to.

Promote Diversity

It’s important to treat everyone fairly and with respect, but it’s also important to go above and beyond. You can do this by working with organizations that promote diversity.

For example, I was a speaker and global ambassador for the Wometech global event, where I was able to share my research and knowledge with workers, entrepreneurs, and executives. It felt good to make a positive impact and in the meantime, my company expanded its network.

How to Build Your Social Impact Brand

Having a great brand that promotes empathy and social engagement is one thing, but it doesn’t guarantee results for your business or for the social issues you’re trying to solve. That’s why you need a social impact strategy.

Related: What Does Social Engagement Mean

Here are a few things to consider before incorporating it into your brand identity:

Build Your Social Impact Brand Identity

Identify your vision, mission, and goal for social impact: just like branding a business, you need to be clear about what you want to market and why.

Do the Research

Social impact branding means that you or the marketing agency you hire will create content to raise awareness of your social impact initiatives.

It takes time and money, so you need to be clear about the direction you want to take.

For example, you should consider whether the area you choose fits with your company’s sustainability and whether you can imagine running a campaign around the specific social issues the area entails.

Assess Your Strengths and Weaknesses

It’s important to make sure you’re not tagging something that will backfire later.

For example, if your company has a history of discrimination and you want to be a diversity advocate, you should think carefully about the steps you’ll take to improve the way your company operates and how you’ll handle the issue if it becomes public.

Know Your Audience

Making sure you’re doing good is great, but you also need to make sure each campaign fits your target audience.

For example, if your products consume a lot of natural resources for the environment, preaching that you’re going green might be seen as hypocritical, especially if your business model can’t be changed. However, you may be better able to help by advocating for diversity, education, or other areas.

Develop a Story About Your Social Influence

In people’s eyes, why you want to contribute to social good may be more important than you think, not just for your business, but for you as a business owner.

If it’s just about the trend, no one will probably care, but if there’s a real story behind it, it can make a big difference. I’ve worked with clients who didn’t even know that their interest in social impact was deeply rooted in their personal history. When we dug into their past together, we sometimes came across the most amazing stories that we could then incorporate into their brand story.

Should You Consider Social Impact Branding

The possibilities for social impact branding are endless. You can donate a percentage of your profits, give away a product for free, or even invest in a charitable project.

Whatever you choose, social impact branding allows you to create a strong brand that’s more than just your name, color palette, and marketing; it’s an extension of who you’re and how you want to make a difference.

From my experience, I’ve yet to work with anyone who’s regretted it. On the contrary, people often become even more interested in the field than they expected when they started. Social impact branding isn’t just a business or a good thing, it’s a journey.

Contact info on LinkedIn: Valerie Forgeard