Interbrand opening ‘corporate citizenship’ office in Canada

Move reflects Canadians' heightened interest in social values and the environment

Canadian marketers need to ramp up their do-gooding ways, according to Interbrand.

The Omnicom-owned global brand consultancy has pledged to help by expanding its corporate citizenship practice to Canada. The company’s approach is to integrate corporate citizenship with business strategy to create long-term impact and drive brand value.

In previous research, Interbrand found that US$11 billion in brand value of the top 15 global brands was attributed to corporate citizenship. Related data found that 94% of consumers would switch brands if one carried a cause and one did not.

“It’s imperative that Canadian CMOs consider corporate citizenship as a driver of business performance and brand value,” said Carolyn Ray, managing director of Toronto-based Interbrand Canada. “As Canadians, we have historically been reluctant to broadcast our achievements, yet I believe the world can learn a lot from our leadership and innovation. To do this, we must shift our perspective on corporate citizenship as optional, and make it an integral component of brand and business strategy.”

For Interbrand, corporate citizenship goes well beyond PR or reputation management. “[It] extends to all stakeholders, including employees, suppliers, communities and society at large,” said Ray.

The global corporate citizenship practice was established at Interbrand’s New York headquarters four years ago. In Canada, Meghann Fraser, Interbrand’s head of strategy, will lead it as part of her role, with a supporting team of analytics, valuation, creative and strategy experts.

Tom Zara, Interbrand’s global practice leader for corporate citizenship in New York, said Canada is an ideal market for the practice. “Canada is far more advanced in [its] world view, far more innovative in [its] social values and far more advanced in environmental behaviour [than other markets],” he told Marketing. “For us, this is a perfect cultural environment with the right complement of consumer brands, B2B brands, energy brands and natural resources [companies].”

Interbrand’s announcement comes on the heels of its Top 50 Best Global Green Brands study in partnership with Deloitte, which was released in June.

This year’s top five brands were Ford, Toyota, Honda, Nissan and Panasonic. The brands were ranked on the performance of their sustainability efforts and the way the public perceives those efforts. (The study is a subset of Interbrand’s 100 Best Global Brands list, on which there are no Canadian brands.)

As part of its corporate citizenship practices, Interbrand helps companies close the gap between perception and performance. “If you don’t have a grasp of either of these [two dimensions], you don’t fully appreciate how to leverage the investment you are making in corporate citizenship,” said Zara.

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