Brands That Work: Giving Back

At SIGNAL.csk, we love working with companies to find what’s true, meaningful, and different about their brand. The ‘meaningful’ part of this equation often relates to brands that give back and make a difference in a way that aligns with their values.

Philanthropy is an evermore important part of company culture and an obvious choice for building brand reputation.  Although giving programs, causes, and volunteer tie-ins are not new, consumers basing purchase decisions on social consciousness is.  As a result, we increasingly see employee packages with ‘volunteer days’ as standard; brands publicly committing to pledge profits to worthy causes; and even brands with charity at their very core — like Toms and Love Your Melon.

So, why are we seeing this uptick?

With consumerism at an all-time high, brands have to compete for every dollar. In addition to the obvious moral reasons to give back, corporate philanthropy has an additional benefit: brands who can offset some ‘shoppers guilt’ on behalf of their customers gain another competitive edge.

“U.S. Millennials are receptive to cause marketing and are more likely than non-Millennials to purchase items related to a particular cause… They also expect companies to care about social issues and will reward those that partner with the right causes.” 

This is a triple win — benefitting brands, causes, and consumers simultaneously — but with so many brands jumping on the philanthropic brandwagon, who’s doing it right?


The Originators — TOMS

Blake Mycoskie launched the One for One model in 2006 after seeing South American children living in poverty and facing many hardships, including going without shoes. It’s a simple premise: for every pair of TOMS shoes purchased, a pair would be given to a child who needs them. Since then, they’ve launched TOMS Eyewear, TOMS Roasting Co, and TOMS Bag Collection, each with a different cause:

  • Over 86 million pairs of shoes to children since 2006.
  • Restored sight to over 600,000 people since 2011.
  • Helped provide over 22 million gallons of safe water since 2014.
  • Supported safe birth services for over 25,000 mothers.

Currently, their focus is on ending gun violence right here in the US. The One for One model has inspired many other similar programs from brands worldwide, propagating creative thought around ways to give back and engage.

Toms is a brand that gives back to the community.


The World Water Crisis — Stella Artois

Providing access to clean water in the developing world is a popular cause.

“Since joining forces with in 2015, Stella Artois has helped provide access to clean water for more than 1.7 million people in the developing world. With every purchase of a Stella Artois or a Limited-Edition Chalice, you can help transform lives around the world. This creates a ripple effect: with access to clean water, women can care for their families, families can earn an income and pursue their dreams.” – Stella Artois

In addition to Stella Artois, Lifestraw, Janji, and Sevenly are just a few other brands who are also joining the crusade to combat the world water crisis.


The Innovators — FIGS

As is usual in the world of charitable giving, some causes are more popular than others. In respect to brand philanthropy, smaller or more niche causes provide opportunities for all sizes of business to do good. For example, FIGS has donated hundreds of thousands of scrubs to healthcare providers in need in over 35 countries through their Threads for Threads initiative.

“Many medical professionals in resource-poor areas do not have access to basic medical supplies including scrubs. In fact, many of these professionals have never owned a set of scrubs and perform everything from routine to life-saving procedures in jeans and t-shirts.” – FIGS

FIGS is a brand that gives back

The provision of scrubs not only boosts morale and clinician-patient trust, it also protects wearers and their patients. FIGS believes access to scrubs should not be limited by location or socio-economic circumstance.

Smaller brands are well equipped to make a difference for lesser-known causes such as this. Other notable examples include the elephant conservation mission, supported by IvoryElla; and Beautiful Rights, who donate to a rotating plethora of underserved causes.


Cause-driven Branding

Over the years we’ve had the pleasure of becoming closely acquainted with some purposeful, charitable brands that give back. Read more about how we tapped into Moose International’s brand DNA to help them create a brand new business initiative to support Mooseheart Child City & School.

Would you like to uncover hidden meaning that could give your brand depth?


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Additional Reading

Cause Marketing Matters to Consumers – Entrepreneur

Here’s How Cause Marketing Can Make A Difference – Forbes

How Cause Marketing Can Boost Your Brand – Forbes

Millennials prefer brands with purpose – Medium

Cause Marketing For Dummies Cheat Sheet – Dummies