Want to Build a Trustworthy Brand? Follow Good Business Ethics!


Trust Wooden Letterpress Concept

The biggest brands in the world are built upon a set of business ethics which have created an atmosphere of reliance and trust around their brands. In an already crowded market, where brands with similar offerings jostle for space and visibility, it is their business ethics which carry weight and help them to stand apart.

Fancy ad campaigns and smart online publicity might carry great recall value in the minds of customers, but it is only their work ethic which can make them actually use the product and keep coming back for more. Anita Roddick, the founder of the path-breaking brand for personal care products – The Body Shop – had once said, “Being good is good business”. Her brand at that time (1976) was the pioneer in using only natural ingredients which were ethically sourced and cruelty-free. As long as she was at the helm, they were also one of the early companies to introduce fair trade in the beauty industry.

Business ethics involve a whole lot of good!

Disparate companies like Google in the US, a Saudi hospital construction company called IHCC, Kellogg USA, as well as indigenous brands like Tata Iron and Steel Company and Maruti Limited, all have sound business ethics in common. Business ethics act as a roadmap for how a business should behave and that profits should be made only through the right channels.

It is an intangible aspect formed from the human notions of good and bad but has an impact on an organization’s management philosophy, organizational culture, and daily business practices. Companies with good business ethics are known to have strict compliance programs for manufacturing and sourcing, demonstrate more social responsibility, adhere to all government regulations related to their operations and follow fair employee and labour practices. They can mainly be seen dealing in products, services and technologies that largely benefit the health and well-being of mankind and sustain the environment.

Garner long-term, lasting benefits for an organisation

It is important for an organization to be committed to its business ethics as it helps them to consistently address the needs of their customers, the well-being of their employees as well as the community from which they gain their resources in the following ways:

  • Business ethics guide socially acceptable decision making. They foster an environment of following the rules at all levels within and without an organization.
  • Fair work ethics and practices increase employee retention. Employees stay longer where they feel they are valued and heard.
  • Trust generated by ethical practices attracts investors. Investors like to put their money where they know it’s safe.
  • Business ethics build up a sound reputation for the organization among customers. This environment of trust converts into sales and customer loyalty.
  • Ethical business practices reduce overall costs in not having to spend more gaining new customers or hiring new people as a loyal base in these areas already exists.
  • It is easier for ethical companies to attract good suppliers who add value to their offerings due to prompt payment and an empathetic relationship.
  • Ethical practices ensure the highest quality of services and products. Due to an organization’s image of trust and reliability, customers automatically perceive their products to be of good quality.

It is very easy for start-ups to buckle under the pressures of building up from scratch with limited resources. A lot of time, entrepreneurs can be at the crossroads of a moral dilemma, when faced with obstacles like getting an official inspection approved by the authorities or pitching for a contract. At such times, it can be very tempting for start-ups to flout the rules and find shortcuts to climb up the ladder. But, nothing can be worth losing one’s reputation for short term benefits. In the rush to gain market share, it is very common to lose sight of customer complaints and grievances, which in today’s digital age, can easily snowball into a controversy online. However, business ethics demand that these individual issues be dealt with great seriousness and sincerity.

Most iconic brands across the globe are known to follow strong ethos and practices and stick to them, come what may. Increasingly, as the world is shrinking online, in the words of Mike Clasper President (BD), Proctor and Gamble (Europe), “People are going to want, and be able to find out about the citizenship of a brand, whether it is doing the right things socially, economically and environmentally.” Companies with strong business ethics, will therefore, continue to stand a cut above the rest.

[The article has been authored by Mahesh Nair, CoFounder of PicsDream, a platform for photographers and videographers to share, showcase and monetize their art]

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