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CSR Called the New ‘Branded Content’

around-the-worldAs more and more companies try to distinguish themselves by marketing their environmental stewardship and energy efficiency efforts, branding increasingly is coming down to how a company conveys its corporate social responsibility standards, according to Diana Verde Nieto, Chief Executive Officer of London-based Clownfish.

In Nieto’s commentary at MediaPost, she states that “Traditional communications are no longer sufficient for creating loyal fans or bringing the brand to the forefront.”

Instead, a company must reach out to the public in the digital sphere, engaging with entertainment vehicles on the Internet and in other digital platforms. Brands that do so gain significant publicity, she writes, adding, “When brand entertainment is based on the things that really matter, consumers volunteer their attention. It is a move from interruption to attraction.”

Nieto cites the example of the Dove Evolution of Beauty video, which ties into women’s self-esteem issues as they relate to sustainability.

“Many women feel strongly about these issues, and because of this, women will listen to what Dove has to say,” Nieto writes. “By responding to women’s concerns, Dove is building the social value of its brand and in so doing, enhancing emotional value and brand identity. This strategy has only worked for Dove because it is part of their long term therefore credible commitment to CSR.”

Tying CSR efforts into public events is another strategy to extend a company’s brand, she notes.

The use of CSR as tied to branded content, Nieto writes, also:

  • helps to build a brands reputation
  • is a point of differentiation
  • encourages consumer interest
  • helps to build consumer trust and loyalty.

If consumers see that brands are addressing the issues that are important to them, it follows that they are likely to continue to buy their products,” she notes.

Since the recession started, consumers have upped their purchase of green items, according to one survey.

U.S. sales of organic food and beverages are up 17 percent over last year.

The rise of blogs, social networks and online news organizations focused on environmental and social issues have consumers accustomed to receiving independent information instantly. This also gives consumers unprecedented opportunity to verify company claims. More than 40 percent of Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability (LOHAS) consumers — the leading segment when it comes to green attitudes, behaviors and purchasing — state that they look for proof when a company makes a claim, according to research from the Natural Marketing Institute.

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