The role ethical branding plays in society

Chapter one

Research Question:
What is the role and effects of ethical branding in South African society ?

This paper aims to explore the role that ethical branding has towards South African society. This paper will give a clear understanding as to why ethical branding is important within brands and businesses, it will then go on to explain the process in which a company has to follow inorder to become an authentic ethical brand and explain how this process will benefit the success of the company.
A comparision will be made to distinguis ethical brands from non ethical brands. ‘It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation and only one bad one to lose it.'( Benjamin Franklin, 1780).

In todays world the majority of the people do not know the actual meaning of ‘brand’, it might sound like a simple word but it actually has mulitiple meanings behind it. ‘The American Marketing Association defines a brand as: a name, term, sign, symbol, or design, or a combination of them, intended to identify the goods or services of one seller or group of sellers and differentiate them from those of competitors’ (Kotler, 2003).
Nowadays people are beginning to become more loyal towards the brands that they use, some people will not buy other brands, this happens commonly amoungst clothing brands, for example, a loyal customer of Nike will not purchase an item from Adidas. In the words of Hazel Kahan (quoted in Hall, 1999), brands are now gunning for a share of consumers’ inner lives, their values, their beliefs, their politics; yes, their souls. The impact of brands and branding is far beyond the field of marketing and advertising. But why is this ? One might think that this is only because they like the look and feel of the brand, but they do not realise that the brand also uses a process called ‘ethical branding’ to gain the trust of their customers.

‘The core ethical brand concept was originally conceived by William (Bill) Smith ‘ an Internet entrepreneur and management consultant – in 1996’ (The Evolution of Ethical Brand, 2011). Ethical branding in simple words can be defined as a set of morals that a company abides to, inorder to gain the trust of their customers. Any brand can say that they are ethical but, its not that easy, there is a process to follow inorder to truly be ethical. This process can be summed up in three words: listen, learn and respond.( Ethical Brands Listen, Learn And Respond,2010).
Ethical branding is not an obligation to a company but it is highly recommended, if the company plans on growing and becoming a more successful brand. The media states that unethical activities by brands are prevalent in the marketplace. They vary from spoiled food products to safety issues with toys, automobiles, and air travel. In the short term, these incidents of negative publicity can be devastating and result in immediate losses of revenue and profit. In the long term, these incidents can cripple brands, leading to a dramatic decline in market share and brand equity.( Steinman and Wolfrom, 2012: 32)

This paper will undertake a case study on the role that ethical branding plays in South African society, so that it can give a clear understanding on the importance of ethical branding and how it evolved throught the years. A comparison of ethical and unethical brands will be done so that one will be able to distingush between the two, and can decided which of the two plays a better role in the society.
This paper will be researched from both the customers and companies perspectives, giving insite to both sections. A qualitative approach will be used for the research done in this paper, with web based literature and online journal resources as the primary sources.

Summary of Chapters
Chapter 1: Proposal
Chapter 2:
This chapter will focus on the meaning of ethical branding along with the history of the ethical brand approach. It will then move on to discuss the role and effects that ethical branding plays in South African society. It will unwrap the process that companies need to meet inorder to become an authentic ethical brand. The Ethical Brand Foundation (eb) will be explored.
Chapter 3:
This chapter will unwrap the process that companies need to meet inorder to become an authentic ethical brand. The Ethical Brand Foundation (eb) will be explored. It will undertake a case study on the comparison between ethical and unethical brands, thus showing the disadvantages to brands that are not ethical.
Chapter 4:
Conclusion stating that ethical brands should be priority. Points that could help raise aweness amoungst the society about ethical brands.

Chapter 2

Ethical Branding is something that is not well known in the South African society, This chapter will aim to break down this term to provide better knowledge and insite to the society. This chapter will also make the society aware on how to distingush between ethical and unetical brands.
A brand to most people is just a name of a company or organisation, but it is much more then that. A brand is the image of a company or organisation, it give you an idea of what the company is about, and can also provide knowledge on the history of the company, it gives insite as to what you offer differenty comparded to that of your competitors. A brand alone give of information to a first time customer. ‘A brand is a name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers.” ( American Marketing Association, 1937).
Putting together a successful brand is not something that is achieved over night, it takes a great amount of time and persistance, firstly one would define their brand by gathering research about their target market and deciding what is the companies qualities and mission. After defining the brand one would need to gain exposure. According to Entrepreneur (2015) this is how one would go about doing so
‘ ‘Get a great logo. Place it everywhere.
‘ Write down your brand messaging. What are the key messages you want to communicate about your brand? Every employee should be aware of your brand attributes.
‘ Integrate your brand. Branding extends to every aspect of your business–how you answer your phones, what you or your salespeople wear on sales calls, your e-mail signature, everything.
‘ Create a “voice” for your company that reflects your brand. This voice should be applied to all written communication and incorporated in the visual imagery of all materials, online and off. Is your brand friendly? Be conversational. Is it ritzy? Be more formal. You get the gist.
‘ Develop a tagline. Write a memorable, meaningful and concise statement that captures the essence of your brand.
‘ Design templates and create brand standards for your marketing materials. Use the same color scheme, logo placement, look and feel throughout. You don’t need to be fancy, just consistent.
‘ Be true to your brand. Customers won’t return to you or refer you to someone else–if you don’t deliver on your brand promise.
‘ Be consistent. This tip involves all the above and is the most important tip on this list. If you can’t do this, your attempts at establishing a brand will fail.’ (Entrepreneur, 2015)
Ethics can be narrowed down to the understanding of whats right and wrong, good and bad. It is rules that people follow everyday which helps distinguish the character and nature of a person. ‘Ethics are the set of moral principles that guide a person’s behavior. These morals are shaped by social norms, cultural practices, and religious influences. Ethics reflect beliefs about what is right, what is wrong, what is just, what is unjust, what is good, and what is bad in terms of human behavior. They serve as a compass to direct how people should behave toward each other, understand and fulfill their obligations to society, and live their lives.’ ( Bounless, 2015)
Ethics in Branding (Ethical Branding)
Ethics and Branding is linked because of aspects like rules and regulations. Companies follow rules inorder to satisfy clients, by following moral principles employees learn how to communicate and interact with all sorts of clients. Ethical businesses are commonly driven by something more concrete than profit, often in the form of a mission statement or charter of values. When these values are championed by management and valued by employees, the workforce becomes a community united by common goals rather than simply co-existing to pursue profit. This can yield significant benefits for employee engagement and a better relationship with the public

1. Benjamin, F. 1780. The Importance of Brand Ethics. Available: [Accessed 15 May 2015].
2. Hall, J. (1999) ‘Corporate ethics and the new commercial paradigm’, Journal of Brand Management, 7(1): 38-47.
3. Kotler, P. 2003. Marketing Management,Millenium Edition. Available: [Accessed 15 May 2015].
4. Steinman, R.B. and Wolfrom, B.T. 2013. The Effect of Brands’ Unethical Actions on Consumers’ Attitudes in the Fast Moving Consumer Goods Domain. Business Management Dynamics.
5. (n.d.). Ethical Brands Listen, Learn And Respond. (2009). Available: [Accessed 15 May 2015].
6. (n.d.). The Evolution of Ethical Brand. (2013). Available: [Accessed 16 May 2015]
7. (n.d.). American Marketing Association. (1937). Available: [Accessed 11 August 2015].
8. (n.d.). Entrepreneur. (2015). Available: [Accessed 11 August 2015].
9. (n.d.).Boundless.’Defining Ethics.’ (2015). Available: [Accessed 11 August 2015].

‘ Dog eat dog ‘ the business place is hostile and success depends on sole self-interest. It is a myth because unfettered self-interest has never aided business networking and stakeholder engagement.
‘ Survival of the fittest ‘ success is sustained by pure competition even if it disregards rules. It is a myth because valuable interactions that promote growth rely on cooperation.
‘ Nice guys/ girls come second ‘ consideration cannot accompany the road to success. It is a myth because nurturing business relationships is a prerequisite for sustained success, bearing in mind the value of a respectful reputation.
‘ Unethical conduct is not serious ‘ it might not be right, but it’s not causing harm, So let’s keep doing it. It is a myth because eventually the knock-on effects of unethical behaviour will catch up, harming the organisation and its stakeholders.
‘ When in Rome, do as the Romans do ‘ everyone else is working unethically, so we should too. It is a myth because peer pressure is a pitfall. Just because everyone else is doing it doesn’t make it right or good for our stakeholders and our reputation.
‘ All that matters is the bottoms line ‘ money should be made at all costs no matter the ethical consequences. It is a myth because while money making remains at the core of any business, profitability is dependent on stakeholder interaction which will be lost if unethical behaviour results in a scandal.
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