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  • Posted by: Interbrand on Monday, August 18 2014 01:33 PM | Comments (0)

    Month of Service 2014

    In keeping with its annual tradition, during July Interbrand united for its Month of Service as part of Interbrand Inspired – our Foundation. Across the globe, Interbrand provided pro-bono consulting services to inspiring non-profits and social impact startups, in addition to offering hands-on volunteering in local communities. In total, Interbrand hosted and participated in more than 20 activities and positively affected the lives of many.

    The gift of generosity is a powerful expression of humanity and when a corporate community embraces altruism, the true character and spirit of the brand is revealed. Corporate Citizenship at Interbrand is our demonstration of appreciation for what we have and what we can give to others in pursuit of making the world a better place.

    From the Americas to Australia, Interbranders left a lasting impact on the organizations it partnered with and the communities in which we operate. The effects were felt in New York, where one team worked with Futures and Options to help underserved youth express their own personal brands – advice that Futures and Options knows will “help in their professional growth no matter what field they pursue.”

    The volunteer opportunities also support Interbrand’s collaborative and world changing internal culture, providing employees with the ability to think creatively and grow closer through shared experiences. Our Madrid office dedicated their time to a local community center, and as Angela Rodriguez expressed, “it was a life changing experience for all of us.” In working with Student Reporter, Associate Consultant Jeremy Shapero noted, “our work was an exciting opportunity to flex beyond our traditional roles and teams."

    During Month of Service, Interbrand partnered with the following non-profits and start-ups: Career Gear; Friends of the Children New York; Minds Matter; Domestic Violence Project; Rooftop Films; Bite Size Learning; Friends of Bezalel; Student Reporter; Charity Miles; Pencils of Promise; Sustainable Health Enterprises (SHE); GrowNYC; Futures and Options; Per Scholas; Upwardly Global; ABC Life Literacy; The Library Project; and Envision.

    For more photos from Interbrand’s Month of Service, visit our Facebook page here!

    About Interbrand Inspired
    Interbrand Inspired is Interbrand’s very own commitment to Corporate Citizenship. It is a not-for-profit foundation leveraged to promote the power of education around the world. Interbrand Inspired provides our employees an opportunity to give their time and talent to our communities through partnerships with educational organizations.

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  • Posted by: Interband on Friday, July 25 2014 11:38 AM | Comments (0)

    Corporate Citizenship

    From more sustainable sourcing to social innovation, companies are doing more every day to create positive social change and sustainable solutions—and consumers are increasingly “rewarding” brands that take social responsibility seriously.   

    Super Market News reports that American supermarket chain, Safeway Inc., has made great strides in its efforts to sustainably source all fresh and frozen seafood by the end of 2015. The brand is already more than halfway to its goal, proving its leadership as a sustainable seafood retailer. In addition, Safeway has saved over 75 million gallons of water, eliminated 300 million plastic bags, and donated 72 million pounds of food.   

    Speaking of plastic bags, the infamous question of “paper or plastic?” may soon be a thing of the past. According to PackagingDigest.com, standard materials are being replaced with non-toxic, lower weight, biodegradable, reusable and recyclable alternatives. Also, bio-plastics are showing a growth rate of more than 20 percent with production expected to increase from 1.39 million tons in 2012 to 6.18 million tons by 2017. Why? Because packaging influences purchasing decisions—and more consumers are showing a preference for sustainable materials and design.   

    Picking up on the real-world solutions trend, Eco-Business reports that more organizations are moving beyond donations and philanthropy. Instead, they are becoming actively involved in projects that benefit business and have a positive social impact. Whether showing a focused commitment to a particular issue through a corporate foundation or embedding CSR into company operations, CSR programs and foundations boost employee morale and enhance corporate reputations. And the choice does not have to be one over the other—a greater CSR strategy can work simultaneously with a foundation.   

    As these efforts illustrate, businesses are doing a lot to give back—but are they doing enough? According to the 2013 UN Global Compact-Accenture CEO Study on Sustainability, as Sustainable Brands reports, two-thirds of CEOs admitted that businesses could be doing more to address sustainability challenges. Although CEOs see engagement with consumers as the single most important factor motivating them to accelerate progress on sustainability, they are often out of step with what motivates consumers to make responsible purchasing decisions.   

    To engage more effectively with consumers, companies must close the gap between performance and perception, according to Interbrand’s annual Best Global Green Brands report. Commenting on the report, Vikas Vij of JustMeans.com said, “The consumers of today hold the world’s top brands to an exacting standard and expect these brands to act responsibly.” As Interbrand’s research indicates, reducing the gap between socially and environmentally responsible business practices—and consumer perception of those practices—is critical to building brand value.   

    To find out more about the value of Corporate Citizenship, be sure to check out this month’s installment of Closing the Gap!

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  • Posted by: Meghann Fraser on Thursday, July 24 2014 09:50 AM | Comments (0)

    How leading companies advance their business and brand by creating shared value  

    Canadian Tire Jumpstart

    The world now faces an increasingly complex set of challenges: growing income inequality, climate change, and food scarcity, to name just a few. While governments and NGOs continue their work in these areas, the corporate sector is now standing up to help address these issues, recognizing that the world is moving towards a new center of balance where societal impact is just as important as profits. Leading companies around the globe are acting to create meaningful change that not only advances business objectives and the world in a sustainable way, but also continually strengthens brand value. 

    However, a review CSR reports, even among leading Canadian companies, reveals that many organizations are simply going through the motions, either aiming for minimum targets for regulatory compliance or recasting standard business practices through a politically expedient lens. In both instances, these organizations are missing valuable opportunities to create positive social impact, enhance the long-term viability of their business, and share more compelling and differentiating stories with the marketplace. By shifting focus from compliance to creating shared value, these companies can strengthen both their business performance and brand.    

    What is Shared Value?  

    Shared value is the idea that a company can create measureable business value by addressing social issues that directly intersect with its business. The notion goes beyond philanthropy or sustainability efforts to identifying specific challenges that will grow the company’s profits while creating positive outcomes for society. Michael Porter and Michael Kramer, who coined the term, identified unique ways companies can create these shared value opportunities, including product innovation that focuses on societal benefits, efficiencies in the supply chain that reduce environmental impact, and supportive industry relationships in the communities where a company operates.    

    Many leading companies have realized the benefits of creating shared value, such as GE. Since launching its Ecomagination business in 2005, the company has earned over $105 billion in revenue from associated products and services. Focused on building innovative solutions for today’s environmental challenges, the Ecomagination business has grown at twice the rate of the rest of the company. Walmart has realized similar success with its own shared value initiatives. In its efforts to reduce product packaging and optimize delivery routes, Walmart has lowered its carbon emissions while saving $200 million in costs—a clear and dramatic example of redefining productivity in its value chain.    

    Shared Value and Brand Value  

    But beyond driving revenue and improving margin, shared value initiatives provide companies with the opportunity to build brand value. No matter what the goal—from enhancing employee clarity on the company’s purpose to differentiating the brand or improving perceived authenticity and relevance—creating shared value fortifies the attributes that strengthen B2B or B2C brands. The result is a brand better able to drive choice, enhance loyalty, and ultimately increase brand value.   

    Shared Value and Internal Clarity  

    A key tenet to any strong brand is an internal sense of clarity. After all, how can employees be responsible for delivering a brand they don’t understand? This includes being aligned with what the brand stands for—its purpose in the world—so they can engage fully and deliver on its promise. Studies show that companies enjoy significant benefits from highly engaged employees, and frequently see uplift in every business performance indicator: profitability +16 percent, productivity +18 percent, customer loyalty +12 percent, and quality +60 percent.    

    Canadian outdoor recreation outfitter, MEC (Mountain Equipment Co-op), understands its purpose in the world (inspiring Canadians to be active outdoors) and motivates employees accordingly. But to fulfill its mission, MEC understands it must go beyond providing equipment and play a role in conserving the outdoor spaces where people use MEC’s gear. Through its involvement in local communities and outdoor industry associations, and its integrated business and sustainability strategy, MEC embodies shared value. It is building supportive industry clusters that create, develop, and innovate opportunities within its market, while ensuring employees understand the brand’s purpose.    

    Shared Value and Differentiation  

    Canada’s leading telecommunications brands have struggled to differentiate and drive consumer choice beyond price, but one brand stands out for making significant strides to separate itself from the pack. With the launch of Bell’s Let’s Talk initiative in 2010, the company has made progress to put an end to the stigma surrounding mental health by raising national awareness and committing $62 million in funding. While Let’s Talk is playing a vital role in bringing attention to one of the most widespread health issues in this country, it is also helping Bell engage with consumers in a more meaningful way—on the very devices they provide to them. This effort differentiates the brand in a way that has been proven to drive consumer choice and loyalty.  

    Shared Value and Authenticity  

    To convey authenticity effectively, a brand’s communications must consistently align with its actions. For instance, as Canadian financial services brands send messages of partnership and support to customers, consumer debt levels head to a forecasted all-time high in 2014— largely due to easy access to credit. One exception is National Bank.    

    With its ClearFacts initiative, National Bank provides consumers with a plethora of free advice to help Canadians make more sound financial decisions today and tomorrow. Guidance spans from how to best manage daily expenses, such as cell phone data usage, to longer-term considerations like buying a home and planning for retirement. By creating a service that supports the financial health of consumers, National Bank is strengthening its credibility and the authenticity of its brand.    

    Shared Value and Relevance  

    In Canada, childhood obesity is expected to have significant impact on industries such as healthcare and insurance, yet one brand taking on the issue represents a different sector altogether. In 2013, Canadian Tire launched a national advertising campaign bringing broader awareness to childhood obesity, encouraging parents and kids alike to embrace sport and outdoor activity to live better. Canadian Tire extends this effort far beyond ad campaigns by continuously supporting its Jumpstart initiative. Founded in 2005, Canadian Tire Jumpstart enables financially disadvantaged kids to participate in sports by helping to cover the cost of registration, equipment, and transportation. These cumulative efforts notably enhance the brand’s relevance with Canadians by driving interest and engagement in sport, and ultimately, health and well-being.      

    The concept of creating shared value is equally relevant to the non-profit sector. In focusing on new ways to partner, non-profit organizations along with their corporate sector donors are transforming traditional corporate philanthropy into shared value opportunities. One NGO taking on this approach is Plan Canada. “We’re finding more and more opportunities to engage with our corporate partners, moving beyond donations to engaging their employees more holistically,” says Paula Roberts, Executive Vice President, Marketing & Development at Plan Canada. Not only does this approach support Plan Canada’s work in various regions across the globe, but it also strengthens employee engagement levels within its corporate partner base, a proven metric to enhance both productivity and profitability within a business.    

    In creating shared value, these brands demonstrate the opportunity at hand: to be leading Corporate Citizens while strengthening their organizations’ bottom line and brand value. By stepping outside category norms, each has shown how doing what is beneficial for society can, in turn, be beneficial to the business and brand. As more companies move from compliance to embracing shared value in their strategic business planning, we will hopefully see an exciting evolution in category norms altogether. 

    Meghan Fraser is a Director of Strategy for Interbrand Canada. You can follow her on Twitter @meghannfraser.

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  • Posted by: Dominik Prinz on Wednesday, July 2 2014 04:40 PM | Comments (0)

    The annual “Good Pitch” in NYC is a unique event. Bringing together documentary filmmakers and thought leaders from both for-profit and not-for-profit organizations, it is meant to inspire. But, most importantly, this meeting of the minds catalyzes powerful partnerships aimed at solving some of the world’s most pressing issues.    

    Change is a tricky thing to achieve. Especially when it comes to social justice. It requires a strong, clear vision others can rally around. It requires powerful incentives that motivate others to join in. And it requires persistence, because change doesn’t come easily.   

    All these ingredients were present in abundance last week, when one of several global Good Pitch events opened its gates to various filmmakers in New York: Each and every one of them introduced a personal vision of what needs to change in the world to make it more just, more tolerant, more sustainable, and more balanced.   

    The issues raised by the participating filmmakers ranged from critiques of the American criminal justice system to conservation. 3 ½ Minutes, for example, dissects the tragic shooting death of teenager, Jordan Davis, and the legal controversy surrounding the case. Another film, Seed, follows farmers and scientists trying to protect the diversity of agriculture and highlights the battle for the future of our seeds. And the documentary, Virunga, tells the incredible story of the brave people risking their lives to save a World Heritage site in the Congo—home to the last of the mountain gorillas and one of the most bio-diverse places on earth.   

    Opening up the event, Darren Walker, President of the Ford Foundation, affirmed the important role films like these play in furthering positive social change. “The arts,” he said, “are a profound means of improving the human experience; and film is a timeless ally in the ongoing quest for justice.”   

    I could not agree more. We live in a fast-paced, attention span challenged world where younger people often gain more education and inspiration through short films and YouTube video clips than they do through the written word. And the fact that there was no dry eye in the room when Jordan Davis’ parents talked about the unimaginable pain caused by the injustice inflicted upon their son was a testament to the power of visual storytelling to raise awareness and inspire transformative action.   

    That’s where Good Pitch adds a unique (and indispensable) ingredient to the filmmakers’ vision and persistence: it facilitates engagement and allows influential allies and members of civil society to learn about—and get behind—each filmmaker’s cause. Whether it’s on-the-spot financial support to complete a film’s production, or PR and media connections that help amplify its reach, the collective action this gathering of change-makers inspires transcends the room it takes place in. By supporting documentary filmmaking and expanding the audience for social justice-focused films, the Good Pitch’s galvanizing spirit brings these stories to more people. As viewers, we are invited to bear witness, to join the fight against injustice, and to awaken our own potential for visionary leadership and activism, as well.   

    Events like Good Pitch provide yet another pathway of empowerment, enabling people to learn more about what’s not working in the world and giving them the tools to do something about it. From Kickstarter and Crowdrise, to dosomething.org and causes.com—these platforms for change can only be enriched by thought-provoking documentary films. After all, being aware of a problem is the first step in fixing it.    

    The fact that the event gives representatives of the branding and business world a seat at the table speaks to the important role some of the most recognized brands play in this conversation. The Fords, Patagonias, Googles, and Netflixes of this world can—and must—use their sphere of influence to scale the vision of filmmakers such as those who participated in Good Pitch. Those with immense resources and influence can do much to accelerate the kinds of changes we all want to see in this world.   

    Dominik Prinz is Strategy Director at Interbrand New York. Follow him on Twitter: @DomPrinz

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  • Posted by: Tom Zara on Friday, June 6 2014 03:02 PM | Comments (0)

    As the Global Practice Leader of Corporate Citizenship at Interbrand, the focus of my efforts center around shaping strategies that connect the “heart” and “brain” of organizations to create positive change in our world. These efforts to reconcile human values and economic performance are in the service of many of the world’s greatest brands—brands managed by the titans of commerce and brands that touch millions of consumers across the globe.

    At Interbrand, we invest in the creation of programs that meet five criteria for success and employ highly motivated creative teams to develop content that engages employees and customers in support of cause-related programs—all within the confines of glass and steel structures of corporate edifices. We have an intellectual grasp of the cause, sufficient points of reference to shape the tactics of a program, and assurances that what is planned is, in fact, executed. The brain is fully engaged in this strategic process. 

    But where is the heart? 

    This past November, I was invited to join a team from Procter & Gamble, working on the Pampers brand, as well as members of the UNICEF corporate partnership team to fly half way around the world to the Island of Flores in Indonesia. Our purpose was to document the Pampers/UNICEF Maternal Neonatal Tetanus program, nine years in force, and support its worthy objective: eradicating a preventable disease that kills a newborn baby every nine minutes. The program meets every standard of excellence we prescribe to our clients, so my expectations were high. My understanding of the program was well-informed and the metrics of its impact were meticulously documented. All that was left to appreciate was the hands-on participation in the actual implementation of the vaccine program. What transpired during my time in Indonesia was a life-changing experience. 

    Tom Zara

    Tom Zara (left), Global Practice Leader of Corporate Citizenship at Interbrand and Matthew Price (right) of Pampers, are greeted by roosters during their trip to Indonesia.

    Roeteng is the largest city in the central region of Flores, roughly 950 miles due east from Jakarta. Arriving by plane from Denpasar, we then traveled three hours to our destination: a picturesque mountain village in rural Indonesia, removed from everything most Westerners consider “normal.” This is a place where one-room homes with mud floors, limited access to potable water, and subsistence farming are the norm. And, everywhere we looked, there were children, curious and welcoming.  

    In the central gathering hut of the village, we witnessed the complexity and impact of the MNT vaccine program in all of its glory. Mothers lined up with their newborn children—patiently waiting to be examined by the visiting nurses, ready to receive their vaccines and grateful for the medical attention being administered. Observing the procession of young families in search of basic medical services brought my own privilege into sharp relief—access to medical care, both basic and advanced, is something many of us take for granted. But here, receiving preventative care was something to celebrate and a cause for joy. The gratitude was heartfelt. These women now had confidence that their health, and the health of their babies, was secured. The whole village, in fact, participated in the bounty of medical attention and human compassion. 

    Just a short walk to the fringe of the village sat a two-room school. As we approached, we were greeted by a group of beautiful children—all neat in their school uniforms, flashing brilliant smiles and squealing with laughter as we tried to communicate using hands and comical gestures. We proceeded to give these children second doses of the MNT vaccine, which were received with enthusiasm, fearlessness, and calm—a response we were not expecting, but one that gave us insight into the dignity and strength of these children. In their eyes, shone the light of hope and the promise of health.

    As moving experiences like this illustrate, the impact of the Pampers/UNICEF program is not simply measured by statistics. It is also measured by its contribution to the well-being of an individual, a family, and a whole community. While the vaccine is designed to eradicate the incidence of tetanus, the real gift of the MNT program is prolonged life—and optimism. For me, the gift of the program is the tangible sensation of seeing and feeling its impact. Thanks to my journey, I can now be a more credible advocate for the generous initiatives powerful brands make possible—and, for that, I will be eternally grateful. 

    Tom Zara is the Global Practice Leader of Corporate Citizenship at Interbrand. You can follow him on Twitter: ‪@zaracsr4change  

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