This is an excerpt from Brand Cool’s first annual B Corp report. Being a certified B Corporation means we meet higher standards of social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability. It’s something we’re really proud of. Take a look at our B Corp page to download the full report and learn more about our commitment to the triple bottom line.
It’s funny how some of the best things happen by accident.
Back in the early days of Brand Cool, we were just like any startup agency – with a handful of clients, a stack of bills, a small staff and a big dream to be successful. But even then, our dream was a little different.
Of course we wanted to make money. But profit was never the heart of our business. Making the world a better place was.
In the early days we did this by bringing careful attention to our working relationships with each other and our clients. We approached every new business opportunity as an invitation to be of benefit in some small way. Our agency always had a “mission” orientation.
As we grew, we explored business models, knowing there had to be a “for profit” model that embodied our values, especially our recognition that as a business we can’t profit at the expense of others.
And then, we experienced “the global financial meltdown.” While we maintained our full staff and kept our revenue steady, we also took some time to reflect. We realized that applying our talents in service of the world’s most pressing problems needed to be more than a byproduct of our work – it had to be the focus of our work. Compassion and insight had to be the “way” we worked and the “juice” behind what we delivered. It was time to approach business a different way – our way.
From then on, we decided we were going to choose our clients with a discerning eye, seeking out partners who stood for the same things we did. We were going to be mindful of the impact our business had on the environment and local community. We were going to bring in good, genuine people and treat them like family. We were going to be authentic in our relationships and transparent in our business practices.
We were going to be fully human.
And that was it. The initial goal was not to be a Benefit Corporation, though I had learned of them through my research of business models and loved the concept – even intending to one day start one of my own. But I would be lying if I told you I had even the slightest inkling that I had already started one with Brand Cool. Fourteen years later, that’s what makes earning our status as a Benefit Corporation such a thrilling, humbling, yet reaffirming experience. What makes me proudest of all is that the application process did not send us into an operational frenzy, or force any type of overhaul of the way we normally do things. We did it by just being ourselves.
Today, for our purpose-driven corporate clients, our work involves building brands and increasing engagement, particularly around sustainability programs. Our work with public entities impacts underserved populations, public health, conservation and energy efficiency, and economic growth in the clean tech sector.
Looking ahead to 2014-15, we’re planning on making a number of signature investments in our capabilities and services. First is our partnership with Renee Lertzman, PhD, who has joined our team as Director of Insight. Renee is an internationally renowned thought leader in the psychosocial research and sustainability field, and in her capacity at Brand Cool she will combine those disciplines, uncovering truly human insights that will help us better support culture, systems and behavior change, specifically in the energy efficiency and sustainability arenas. Next, we are in the process of developing both assessment and engagement models for potential and current clients. We’re constantly in “R&D” mode, evolving our approach, because sustainability and energy efficiency are unique challenges demanding new solutions – ones that we believe will require a bigger dose of “human.”
Our clients are asking for rapid change and new levels of participation and engagement. We’re responding with innovative research, programs and campaigns designed to meet people where they are, recognize their innate goodness and the complexities they navigate every day, and of course, their deeply human desire to belong, to feel safe and to love.
In the community, we’ll continue to invest both individual and collective agency time to serving various organizations through charity events and pro bono work, with a special focus on those that serve children and the hungry.
Finally, we’ll continue to support our internal team through formal professional development opportunities as well as Emotional Intelligence training, a unique program that focuses on a deeper understanding of the self and our relationships with others.
From all of us here at Brand Cool, we extend sincere thanks. We are truly honored to be a Benefit Corporation – and we promise to keep using our business to make the world a more sustainable place.
Because, as we like to say, decency disrupts.
Sue Kochan CEO, Brand Cool