Consumers are choosing brands that align with their ethical beliefs, and they are supporting companies dedicated to philanthropy, sustainability, and minimizing the environmental impact. A recent Google Cloud study found that 82 percent of shoppers prefer a consumer brand’s values to align with their own.
This represents a change for marketers everywhere. It puts the onus on brands to communicate their values in their brand and marketing messages. However, it’s not as simple as putting “proud supporter of U.S. military veterans” on a billboard.
Of the utmost importance, a brand must live up to its stated values in a non-performative way. As organizational leaders and marketers, we must commit to only branding authenticity.
In my role as the leader of DBC (The Design and Branding Company), an equity-focused creative agency, we’re often asked to work with the world’s largest organization to help launch a brand or campaign that highlights the efforts resulting from an equity pledge their organization has made.
As tempting as the money can seem, our internal values dictate that the only projects we’re able to take on where the following test questions can be passed:
- What does success look like for the company?
- Is this a one-time effort, or a long-term commitment?
- Who stands to benefit from this?
The answers to these questions may vary, but it’s my role to ensure that they don’t include vague, directionless corporate speak, a single attention-grabbing effort, and that everyone benefits, not just the corporation.
But wait, you may ask (and our team often does), why can the organization benefit from an equity pledge?
My answer is always the same: Why would they do it if not? Corporations are still beholden to their shareholders, and trying to pressure them to change from the goodness of their hearts is not a sound financial strategy.
In fact, inclusion is profitable.
Without even seeing the numbers, ask yourself, how could it not be?
Take the case of the many banks whose equity pledges included supporting businesses run by women and people of color. They’ve helped create new businesses through grants and accelerators, diversified their supply chain and made it more competitive, and increased funding for all types of education.
What does this do? It creates wealth. What do banks need to continue growing? An increased pool of customers with equity. So, as marketers, if a brand is walking the walk after talking the talk, we can help change the world. If it’s lip service, you are only helping increase the fortunes of people who don’t need it at the expense of people who do. We have to choose our clients wisely.
As for the numbers? A Deloitte study found that high-growth brands (defined as those with annual revenue growth of 10 percent or more) are more frequently establishing key performance metrics for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) objectives than their lower-growth competitors.
Choose your clients wisely.
It’s not an easy task, but we know the impact and importance our work has on consumers so we choose clients that align with our beliefs in terms of diversity, inclusivity, and accessibility and connect with communities that we wish to support while furthering our mission to democratize the design process.
About the Author:
Carlos Williams is the prime minister (also known as a chief executive officer) of DBC (The Design and Branding Company), an innovative design and creative marketing agency infusing design with data to solve complex communication challenges. His company’s core competencies include graphic design – logos, presentation, signage, data visualization, and website design – and brand strategic development – brand positioning, brand naming, visual identity, integrated brand communications, and brand CI/CD. Since founding the agency nine years ago, Mr. Williams has built DBC into one of the country’s most in demand creative agencies, partnering with clients such as Spotify, Bank of America, Meta, American Express, College Board, The National Basketball Players Association Foundation, Courtyard by Marriott, National Urban League, just to name a few companies. His design and brand marketing agency is reflective of his values and intentionally built with diversity, equity, and inclusion at the forefront with 13 full-time employees.
By Carlos Williams, prime minister (also known as a chief executive officer), DBC (The Design and Branding Company)