Brand building ‘dos’ include new products and services, getting into new markets, delivering new experiences, providing new platforms and collaborating with others who share the same aims.
But there’s one ‘do’ where brand builders have had limited impact: contribution to society. Here’s where business is (mostly) missing an open goal.
How do we know – really – what impact (positive or negative) a business makes to the world? Corporate reporting is still in the dark ages – defined by very narrow measures that tell non-shareholders little or nothing of value. There are a few encouraging attempts to break the mould (e.g. KBC published its report to society alongside the annual report, the first chunk of it is great on the crisis).
Isn’t it time forward thinking businesses took the lead in changing how they report on what they’re up to? The leading brands in finance, utilities, energy, health and food, can and should redefine how business is reported.
Most of the people who can do something about this for us were gathered together for pizza and fondue at Davos this week. One easy way to start would be to reveal how much tax is really paid by each business. Which would seem altogether a good idea – it would help businesses address an area where their reputation is plummeting, it would flush out the shirkers and it would give some forward thinking brands an opportunity to demonstrate the (bigger) value they deliver.
Which would make us love them a little more.
All of this is possible. Easy even. The accounting firms (who themselves need a reputational lift) have the ability to report how much tax a company contributes. Some even offer it as a service.
So here’s a brand building idea. Why not make it an outcome of Davos that business voluntarily agrees to report on total tax contribution as a matter of course? From tomorrow?