So let’s start off with the obvious. What exactly are ethics? Brand ethics refers to the set of standards of morally right and wrong when conducting a brand’s business. In simpler words, it’s a company’s decision to choose to either be the good guy or the not-so-good guy…
Companies establish their business ethics in order to promote integrity and build trust among their employees, clients, and customers.
There are a few specific characteristics that can establish a brand as ethical. You can consider your business ethical if it:
1. Conducts itself with a strong moral compass
2. Causes limited to no harm to people, animals, or the planet
3. Is sustainable, has a positive and responsible impact on society
Your success as a brand will always rely on a few different factors. Apart from the obvious ones; such as product, quality, and price, one of the other common forgotten top factors, would be having a brand identity or purpose. This is definitely one of the best ways to promote and establish your business. Not only will it help your target audience remember your brand and choose it over your competitors, but it could also be your entire legacy. Every brand needs to generate goodwill to survive in the long run. Brand ethics go a long way in building that goodwill.
A brand’s purpose is the sole reason for its existence. It can be purely for financial gain, perhaps it’s catering to an audience that is not being catered to, or wanting to better our society and planet. Whatever it may be, that will be the brand’s purpose. The ethics aspect will then fit into that based on the established purpose. The best brands have a purpose that is to serve the people, or fulfil a need or meet a gap, financial reward should be a byproduct of that.
The main thing to note here is that just like all of us have a choice, whether we want to be ethical with our lifestyle, businesses/brands have the same choice too. A good example would be a clothing brand that can choose to either be a fast-fashion brand and contribute to the pollution of our planet for financial gain or it can focus on re-using resources to make their products and instead help save the planet and educate their consumers. It’s exactly choices like this that are now strongly influencing consumer decisions.
Building goodwill = Trust = Customer Loyalty
A SmartestEnergy report reveals that 81% of people prefer to buy from sustainable sellers over those that aren’t, and 85% of people globally, have shifted their purchase behavior towards being more sustainable in the past five years as stated by a global sustainability study.
What does that mean? Well, it means that you have companies that find existing and serious problems in our world and make it their mission to change it for the better. For example, the Australian-owned period underwear brand, Modibodi. The founder Kristy Chong found a huge environmental and comfort issue with disposable pads and tampons. So she set out on a mission to create a comfortable and sustainable alternative, reusable period underwear. This would be a prime example of an ethical brand that has established its purpose and mission in the market. As a result, all consumers who have similar morals and ethical approaches, will align themselves and loyally support the brand. And with the recent movement towards saving the environment, more and more customers choose to align with ethical brands over those that aren’t.
So if you find yourself unsure of whether or not your business is ethical enough, ask yourself the three characteristics mentioned above. I really could go on and on about how important it is in the 21st century, to have strong ethics set in place within your business. But instead, I will leave you with the forever lingering question, do you want to be one of the good guys or the not-so-good guys?