Brand loyalty

tax

I visited Dave Trott’s blog on Campaign today for the first time in a while, and would highly recommend you do the same. In one post, he asserts that brands don’t exist in the real world…I’ll let him explain. But his basic point is that most people judge a company or product by its image and reputation, and this can only work if you echo or amplify something that those same people already perceive about you. In other words, don’t try and push water uphill.

I’m not sure I entirely agree; there are plenty of examples of companies that have let their marketing lead consumers where they want to be rather than where they actually are. But his column coalesced with a random thought I had on the way into work as I read about nPower’s tax shenanigans.

We have just received a brief from a company who consider one of their strengths to be their integrity. This integrity is genuine, to the extent that if they displayed a little less of it, they might make more money. That shouldn’t be right, should it?

As we discover that more and more of the biggest and most famous companies operating in the UK are either dodging tax (not the term they would use, but it’s true), employing slave labour in death traps or paying employees nothing to work for them (literally in some cases), it might be time for those companies who aren’t behaving such a way to make more of their ethics.

That is potentially a risky strategy, but I suspect that the first utilities provider to run an ad campaign around their adherence to the spirit of our country’s tax legislation and exemplary HR policies might attract more new customers than a competitor who can sell you electricity for £10 less a quarter. It’s not like their product is any different.

Social media is quick to shine a light on those companies who set a bad example, but as we all know, good news is generally not news, so we are kept in the dark when big business does the right thing. John Lewis are maybe the exception to the rule, as their version of capitalism seems to involve rewarding their employees when the company is successful. Which, unless I am mistaken, is how it’s meant to work.

Anyway, here’s to the first ‘do the right thing’ campaign. I’ve got some ideas if you have some ethics…

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