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How Should Ethics Factor Into Your Brand Identity?

Written by Forbes Contributor Serenity Gibbons

Creating a brand identity is one of the first steps you’ll take when establishing a business. Your brand identity is what’s responsible for adding color, personality, and appeal to your core products and services. It’s what your customers are going to see and remember, forming their first impressions and allowing your business to differentiate itself from the competition.

There are many strategies you can use to build an effective brand identity, and most people understand the basic factors: What does your logo look like? What kind of colors are you going to use? Are you formal or relaxed? What are your core values?

But beyond this, should ethics enter into the equation? Should you include an ethical stance or proposition in your brand guidelines?

Ethics and Brand Identity
There are a few different ways to make ethics a part of your core brand identity. No matter what, you’ll position your brand in a way that aligns it with a certain moral philosophy, socially responsible cause, or commitment to ethical practices. To be effective, this needs to be unique. It can’t be something like “non-discriminatory hiring practices” because this is an ethical choice we expect pretty much all businesses to follow.

Instead, you could choose to favor a specific cause that not all brands are following. For example, Water Watch Company (WWC) is dedicated to raising awareness of the 844,000,000 people currently living without access to clean water. Its name, Water, comes from its commitment to this cause, baking it into the brand. Furthermore, each watch purchased provides a supply of clean water to one individual for his entire lifetime, and 10 percent of the proceeds of accessories purchased are dedicated to bringing clean water, hygiene, and sanitation education to people around the world. Even its motto is inspired by this cause: “One watch = One person’s clean water supply, for life.”

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