Social Enterprise Live has just carried an interesting story suggesting that a new ‘three-tier’ branding package for social enterprises is being considered. Last year the Central Office of Information published Is Social Enterprise at a Crossroads?, research which indicated that of those most likely to support social enterprise only around 20% knew anything about it.
The national committee that has been set up to ponder this branding problem (the so-called social enterprise identifier steering group) believes that a three-tier approach which builds on the existing social enterprise Mark will help customers understand whereabouts an enterprise is on its journey to becoming ‘social’.
Steve Wylie, chair of the identifier steering group, acknowledges that the strategy has inherent risks of ‘socialwashing’ — as environmental consumerism has resulted in ‘greenwashing’ — but says this can be avoided by ensuring that the brand is backed by ‘a clear set of principles, values and criteria’.
That the sector needs dramatically higher public awareness and understanding is undeniable, but can a branding strategy achieve this? Would it ever achieve the kind of widespread usage necessary to fundamentally change levels of public awareness? I this the idea we’ve been waiting for…or is it an over-sophisticated marketing fantasy?
Maybe it can succeed — Fairtrade branding, for example, has been outstandingly unsuccessful successful (which is what I meant to say originally, of course! — apologies).
Anyway, watch this space — the new SE brand will be unveiled on the 19th November, Social Enterprise Day.