We all want to do good, personally, professionally.  And we want to associate ourselves with other people and brands who have the same values and view as us.  Social change is a huge topic right now whether in politics or the environment, and this trend is not going away anytime soon; if anything it will be in the forefront of businesses in the coming years.

Being a millennial and wanting to do good, I was interested in learning more about brands like Warby Parker so I listened to the panel titled “Societal Brands in a Social World.”  The panelists were Chris Schaumann, Global VP, Digital and Social Marketing of Nokia, Tony Pigott, Global CEO of JWT Ethos and Erin Collins, Head of Customer Insights at Warby Parker. The moderator was Morgan Clenaniel, Editor of Fast Co. Exist. and they on how brands and companies need to have a full transparency and disclosure when it comes to their brand values and doing good.

Overall, it was very interesting to hear these individuals speak about how doing good should not be something a company does because they want to be viewed positively by their customers but rather, they should be doing good because that is just the right thing to do – plain and simple.  Warby Parker, buy one give one brand theory, is truly part of their DNA and people know about this fact.  On the other hand, Chris talked about how Nokia goes above and beyond to make sure they are environmental sustainable and friendly in everything they do.  I never knew and that is because they don’t really broadcast this about themselves.  Being a Finland based company, Chris explained that those involved in the marketing decisions feel like this is something the company just does and doesn’t need to make a big deal about it.  The panel urged Chris to go back to his bosses and show them that they have an obligation to showcase this important value of the company in a fashion and voice that benefits the brand no for their own gain but urges competitors to step up to the plate and also be socially good.  Because Nokia has already made that commitment they should start this conversation and Chris made clear that he will be having these talks with his superiors because he personally thinks Nokia could drive social change in their arena.

Throughout the discussion, Tony made the point over and over again that social change needs to happen because it is the right thing to do and more importantly, it is the right business decision and will drive innovation across multiple platforms. He mentioned that social media has brought brands behind the curtain which is a game changer.  Additionally, he feels that customers do believe what brands STAND for is important and it is AS important as the product they produce.

People have high expectations on what brands should be and what benefits they are providing.  Consumers have given companies an extremely special role to play so will they step up to the plate?