Brand, marketing and social acceptability

I’ve been reading a lot lately about brand and marketing. About the foremost reason why CEOs will start CSR or sustainability strategies. They often say that it is an image issue or a marketing issue. I believe they are right but that the level is wrong. We should ask: « why do we NEED a sustainable brand »? The answers could be stakeholder or shareholder approval as a really broad statement. But when you come down to the basis of it, it’s about social or societal acceptability. We should ask questions like « what is our brand », « why should it change », « what are the risks of not changing », « what are the opportunities of changing ». But the most important question in any case would be « how do I change my business to be able to change my brand ». In todays fast moving environment, we need to walk the talk. If you ask your marketing team to start a social acceptability campain but you don’t change anything, you’re in for a boatload of problems. The first hypothesis I make here is that some of your stakeholders find you or your product unnacceptable or else you wouldn’t need this campain. Well if you’re trying to paint yourself blue but you’re really red, your stakeholders could be insulted that you’re trying to convince them that red is blue… And you don’t need someone like me saying that a reputation can be destroyed fairly quickly.
So beware of people selling your business marketing-based societal acceptability campains. Your perceived gains can be high, your risks are gigantic. And even if it works, your stakeholders will eventually see through the fact that you’re still the same old business that hasen’t really taken into account their preoccupations. THEN, you’ll need help. And it’s going to cost you a lot more.