Yet another great talk in the Refresher Program in which Professor Oriol Iglesias, director of ESADE’s Department of Marketing Management and director of the ESADE Brand Institute, put the audience in the picture about a growing concern in corporations: social awareness and the need to look further than business as such in order to have a positive impact on society.
Oriol Iglesias is a member of the Medinge Group, an international think tank exploring new lines of action to help brands increase their value and improve their contribution to the transformation of society. Each year, the group presents the ''Brand with a Conscience'' award to companies working along these lines to achieve sustained growth.
Why should businesses have a conscience?
Iglesias suggested that the changes taking place in society in areas such as ecology and sustainability, and the upsurge in social activism and its increasing presence in the social media mean that businesses can no longer remain aloof from society. However, as he pointed out, there is still a gap between what society preaches and what people actually buy. As members of society, people expect production to respect the environment and people, but as individuals they continue to buy brands that do not meet these expectations. This phenomenon, which Iglesias calls the ''the bipolar conscious paradox'' may dwindle and have a huge negative impact on companies that fail to meet consumers’ social demands.
False myths and new paradigms
According to Iglesias, the business world has traditionally focussed mainly on shareholders and disregarded other stakeholders, thereby encouraging a fast-buck outlook which has undermined long-term strategic action. There has also been a mistaken belief that managers control brands, when in fact, as experience has shown, brands are built organically on the basis of the interactions between different stakeholders. Companies with a conscience must admit that all stakeholders are crucial for the brand and are part of an ecosystem consisting of customers, partners, shareholders, society, employees and the planet itself which must be kept in balance.
The professor cited Tata Daewoo as a paradigmatic example, a company that now runs the entire city where its HQ is located by maximizing value propositions for the needs of its stakeholders.
A brand with a conscience. What is it? How is it built?
Oriol Iglesias defined brands with a conscience as those that embrace more than business goals, those that transform society and create value for their stakeholders. He emphasised that this is achieved by having principles, and being fair, responsible and open-minded. These characteristics are found in companies such as Patagonia (a manufacturer of sustainable sportswear), Tonys Chocolonely (a Dutch make of chocolate that combats exploitation and promotes decent working conditions) and Dilmah (a tea manufacturer that has transformed the business culture of its country of origin). These companies all sprang from the inspiring outlook of their founders and grew thanks to the values they contributed.
Can large corporations have a conscious?
But not only SMEs can promote those values. Iglesias cited the example of the Swedish bank Handelsbanken, whose sustained and responsible growth has made them more profitable than their competitors, and Unilever, the multinational with a policy of great environmental awareness and respect, healthy conditions for the general population, and self-management for small farmers. These companies demonstrate that awareness is not incompatible with business goals and profit, but does call for a new kind of responsible and participatory leadership able to bring about change.
ESADE Alumni presents another interesting Refresher Program conference: ''Building brands with a conscience that really engage with society'' by Oriol Iglesias (Lic&MBA 98 / PhD 06), associate professor in ESADE’s Marketing Department and director of the ESADE-URL Brand Research Team (GRECOMAR), and co-director of The Global CCO program. The session comes under the presentation of The Global CCO program.
In recent decades, many companies have developed a growing social conscience. Meanwhile, new communication technologies have fostered a hyper-connected and far more transparent competitive environment. Against this backdrop, brands are under great pressure to be socially responsible – but genuinely, not just theoretically. In this refresher program, Professor Iglesias will share his views on building brands with a conscience, i.e. brands that help change today’s world for the better, whilst ensuring more genuine engagement with society.
Oriol Iglesias is full professor in ESADE’s Marketing Management Department and director of the ESADE-URL Brand Research Team (GRECOMAR). Also member of the Executive Committee of the European Marketing Academy, the Scientific Committee of the Special Group in Brand, Identity and Corporate Reputation at the Academy of Marketing (United Kingdom), and the editorial board of the Journal of Brand Management (USA). He was Director in ESADE’s Marketing Management Departmenthe and he has worked on courses and consulting programs for Telefónica, Banco Santander, Deutsche Bank, Sara Lee, Carlson Wagonlit, Orange, Bassat Ogilvy, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Dade Behring, to name but a few. From 2000 to 2007 he was a partner and director of Wakaa Networks, a consultancy specialised in marketing. In parallel he has also been a partner and director of El Terrat Online, the online division of the TV, theatre and entertainment production company El Terrat. Previously he was the senior consultant and then sub-director of ATI-Markefin (consultancy in the realm of service marketing). He started work in the marketing department at Xerox.
Looking forward to seeing you there!
How to get to ESADE:
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