68% confused about what icons mean

integrate and don’t rely on logos no body understands

There is much talk these days about ethics, values, and corporate social responsibility – and rightly so. These are increasingly important subjects.

This is the last of 10 THOUGHTS addressing ethics, values, and CSR in marketing.

A recent survey in the United States found that consumers are confused, or at the very least unsure of the meaning of a range of icons, like ‘fair trade’, and as such, do not engage with them or relate to the brand when they see them.

Certainly, there is evidence to suggest that some businesses rely too heavily on such icons to communicate their ethical credentials, values and commitment to corporate social responsibility. These icons like awards that so many businesses brandish around and promote are not understood by consumers and as a result have little impact on the behaviour of consumers.

In previous THOUGHTS in this series I have discussed how ethics and values are better demonstrated than articulated. There is no doubt that consumers will judge you much more by what you do that what you say or claim. You and I do, so it seems reasonable to expect that they will.

Following on from this it is important to integrate your ethics and values into every aspect of your business plan and your business in general. Certainly, your ethics and values should be reflected in the behaviour of you and your people, but it should also be reflected in:

  • The suppliers you use
  • The distribution systems you use
  • The things you sponsor
  • The claims you make
  • The paper you use
  • The environment you offer staff
  • The promises you make
  • The level of transparency
  • The media you use
  • The terms to offer etc

The point is, that your ethical standards and values should be integrated into and reflected in every aspect of your business. Indeed, they must be in the very DNA of your organisation. Furthermore – when your ethics and values are integrated into every aspect of your business credibility is enhanced and the cost of communication diminished. When there is not full integration – credibility can suffer, and the cost of communication will be higher.

Clearly this takes time and quite clearly it involved ethics and values being a top priority throughout the business planning and implementation process. Indeed, it is necessary to become an ethics and valu7es driven business.


Integrate your values and ethics in to every facet and aspect of your business. leaving no inconsistencies or contractions. Maximise credibility and minimise communication costs

Make ethics and value a key priority throughout your business planning process and throughout the implementation of that business plan.


Ashton, Nielsen, Business Dictionary, Business Bank of Texas, Digital Marketing Resource Centre, Smart Company, Forbes, American Management Association, Zenzi, Investopedia, Accounting Web, Reliable Plant, Fond, Gallup, Mintel


MORE THOUGHTS – www.djohncarlsonesq.com 

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