The year 2020 is going to be unforgettable as it has brought about rapid changes at various levels around the globe. This changing landscape was soon followed by a pressing need for a shift in the nature of brand communications in the new normal. The second day of #RTSPECTRA witnessed an incredibly insightful session by Jerilan Greene, Global Chief Communications & Public Affairs Officer, Yum! Brands, Inc., shedding some light on the recipe for good for brands in the present times.
The pandemic has reshaped our lives and our economies to such an extent that it has caused many of us to rethink our sense of purpose and the choices we make, both as an individual and as a brand. An emerging need and demand for brands to have a social purpose to drive a positive impact in the areas they operate has been witnessed over the months. Many large brands have the unique ability to contribute meaningfully to the challenges which affect us all as citizens with their intangible resources like intellectual capitals, talent, network and the ability to create partnerships to drive real results.
A prominent shift in the global public debate from ‘what do we do’ to ‘what should brands do’ has come to light during the pandemic. Every business is being challenged on the ways they play a part or do not play a part in the issues that are relevant in the current scenario and demand action. As a result, brands are stepping up and changing course fast in response to the crisis in order to redefine what’s possible in terms of social and climate change. The corporate commitments to net-zero impact on the climate have doubled in recent times. More than 150 global corporates are now calling for world leaders for net-zero recovery from Covid-19.
Sadly, the pandemic has exposed the inequalities and made it worse by disproportionately affecting the most vulnerable groups worldwide. However, many brands are responding to this actively by measures like food donations, extra benefits for the frontline workers, and providing healthcare facilities to the ones affected. Companies are also trying to shift from traditional CSR to social purpose nowadays as a result of which they are coming up with various initiatives to fight inequality.
Increasingly, investors are more concerned about the social agenda of brands and the values aligned with ESG in the present times. This rise in ESG is a signal of how rapidly things are changing. Sustainable investing has reached an all-time high in 2020 and ESG funds outperformed S&P 500 during COVID-19. The statement of corporate purpose of companies is changing these days and the new expectation is that businesses must deliver financial and social value hand-in-hand. In fact, not just the consumers and investors, but even the employees today are looking for companies which have a clear and positive impact on the society. Therefore, in such a rapidly changing landscape, as communicators and reputation builders, we have the responsibility to equip our organization to navigate the new social, political and economic landscape with authenticity and transparency.
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