We at Creatively Unsettled believe that human stories of fight, hope and triumph are the pillars of a social good brand. Promoting these stories ultimately leads to promoting the brand. As a matter of fact in this article on why social good brands should tell visual stories, we make a strong case for showcasing the stories of people positively impacted by the brand’s work. So, when I came across this article in Forbes written by Ashoka Changemakers, I was provoked to think carefully on it.
‘Can Marketing Your Social Impact Harm Your Social Impact?’
In this article published in Forbes, the author, Daniela Papi discusses two cases to bring home the point that, it is best to stay away from your impactees’ background stories and only focus on the business aspect of your social good brand while promoting it.
When a social enterprise addresses issues that are complicated, involving people whose lives and dignity have been broken, can promoting itself harm or compromise their self-respect and dignity? Should then the social good brand refrain from talking about the people and communities it works with? We don’t think so.
Humanizing Your Brand
The real strength of your social good is not your product but the communities and individuals that work silently behind it. They add personality and substance to your brand. We don’t believe that a social good brand has to ratchet up the sufferings of people and make it the focus of its marketing communications to sell inferior products. That would be unethical! Having good quality products is the hygiene factor for building any brand. However, social good brands need to recognize and celebrate the zeal, the skills, the contributions, and the courage of the people who define the brand while marketing themselves.
Examples mentioned in the article may be convinced in refraining from marketing their impactees, however we are aware of several other brands that make members of their workforce as their brand mascots.They do this not by focusing on their backgrounds and their sufferings, but THEM as a talented individuals. Below are 3 such examples.
Your People Make Up Your Brand – Rangsutra
Rangsutra, is an artisan-owned social good enterprise or as they call themselves, ‘a community-owned company of craftspeople.’ Based on a fair trade model to give entrepreneurial and earning opportunities to artisans based across Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, artisans at Rangsutra own a percentage of shares in the company. This gives them a direct stake and ownership like Radha Bai, who owns ten shares in the enterprise.
Make Them Your Brand Mascots – Sheroes Hangout Café
Sheroes Hangout, unlike other organizations, celebrates their scars. Instead of making their background stories a magnet for funds and sympathy, Sheroes Hangout, started by Stop-Acid Attacks, a Delhi-based non-profit is run exclusively by acid attack victims. They cook, wait the tables and manage the café all by themselves. “The primary focus has been to create awareness,” says Alok Dixit, founder of Stop-Acid Attacks. One might question the viability of such an establishment in the most gender-biased section of the country, but the café attracted more than 5,000 customers in the first six months, reflecting a shift in attitude toward survivors of acid attacks and to the crime itself in India, where around 309 cases were reported in 2014, a 300% rise from 2013.
They Are An Integral Part of Our Value Chain – Purple Impression
Purple Impression is an ethical clothing brand reviving the art of hand embroidery as a medley with modern design. It provides fair trade opportunities to artisans from Pakistan giving them entrepreneurial opportunity and an extra source of income. Purple Impression is committed to empowering the women workforce through their collections. Each piece has a name and the story of the maker so the customer can know the lady who made it and get to know about the production journey.
An artisan at work – Purple Impression
Humanizing your social good brand, on the whole, is about making your people the pillars of your brand. The key is to de-focus on their past lives and give more impetus on what they bring to the table, motivating them to excel and move ahead from their past.
Cover Image source: Divine Chocolate