DAN Interviews

Guest Column: Corporate Social Responsibility: An obligation or a brand custodian?

11 May 2017

Today, most organizations treat CSR as a mandate. And it fills crevices in functions to the likes of human resources, marketing communications, and finance and in some cases, administration. But in an ideal business world, CSR is a commitment by business to behave ethically and contribute to economic development while improving the quality of life of the workforce and their families as well as of the local community and society at large. It might be a mouthful, but it brings home the point that a successful CSR program impacts the entire organization and the communities and the globe that they serve.

The Companies Act (2013) mandates corporate houses to draw out a CSR plan and invest 2% of their net profits of preceding three years to delve into creating maximum social impact. However, the work that is being carried out under the realm of CSR exposes a rather grim situation. Only a handful of campaigns emerge in the CSR space. Thus, there lies an immense potential that is yet to be explored. CSR is a standalone function, which can create widespread impact on the ground with the scoped resources of 2% CSR funding. However, when it is packaged with effective PR-communication tools, it transforms into a platform through which masses can be reached out.

A brand has become much more than a marketing strategy, a shiny logo, or a catchy tag line; a true brand represents the core values of the organization. A brand is derived not from branding, but from the totality of its work, initiatives, products and services, positioning, responsibility to stakeholders and communications and marketing efforts.

Integrating CSR with brand communications and ethos reaps great benefits. To be most effective, CSR initiatives must be intimately connected to the corporate brand. They must reinforce a company’s unique identity and be an integral part of how a business tells its story. That is where a CSR marketing consultancy finds its place.

Denstu Aegis Network, India has recently launched InDeed, a new division dedicated to providing CSR Marketing Solutions. InDeed works with clients to infuse brand purpose into CSR strategies. It looks into integrating branding and CSR in order to build a corporate culture around responsibility leading to business sustainability and reap reputational rewards. Thereby, making Corporate Social Responsibility an opportunity beyond mere compliance.

Some examples that point in this direction are Dettol’s ‘Banega Swachh India’, ‘P & G Siksha’, which innately triggers and impacts the purchasing behavior of consumers leading to long term financial sustainability and profitability. In the classic case of Maggi (MSG controversy), a gradual investment in brand-led CSR would have reduced the losses and helped them pick up in the fast losing market share swiftly after product correction measures.

In a nutshell, making CSR a brand custodian is a safe investment for long-term financial and social sustainability.

(The author is AVP, InDeed, a new division of DAN dedicated to providing CSR Marketing Solutions)

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the views of exchange4media.com