What is ethical marketing and why did I fall in love with it?
As a branding and marketing expert for the past 12 years, I have supported numerous creatives, NGOs, entrepreneurs, and businesses. However, I've always felt disconnected from the marketing profession due to the advertising industry's contribution to overconsumption, which fuels the climate crisis and ultimately leads to humanitarian crises.
What I'm truly passionate about is helping socially and environmentally conscious individuals and purpose-driven businesses succeed. For me, it's all about ethics and values. I'm constantly searching for ways to move beyond the shallow branding and advertising that pressures us to buy the latest products, leaving us feeling inadequate if we don't.
Improving the way you do business and building your brand on ethical principles is crucial. Ethical business principles and ethical marketing can guide you in this regard.
Here are some examples:
Be transparent about your product's true value and ingredients.
Avoid platforms that promote hate speech – Twitter is not a good choice.
Represent your society using inclusive language and imagery rather than creating an idealised, filtered or false image.
Treat your clients and consumers as humans, not just as a source of money. Do not pressure them into buying your service or product by shaming them about their skin tone, body size, or lack of success.
What is the essence of ethical business?
Ethical business is the foundation upon which impactful marketing strategies are built. It encompasses an unwavering commitment to conducting business in a manner that respects the rights and well-being of all stakeholders involved. From fair trade practices to transparent supply chains, ethical business fosters customer trust and loyalty while creating a sustainable and inclusive environment.
Ethical marketing - is there such a thing? The importance of ethical marketing in today's business
In an era where conscious consumerism is on the rise, ethical marketing has emerged as a powerful tool that not only supports businesses but also fosters positive change. Companies today are increasingly being held accountable for their actions by consumers, stakeholders, and regulatory bodies. One area that has gained significant attention is ethical marketing. This involves a company ensuring that all its marketing activities are conducted in a manner that is honest, fair, and responsible.
Ethical marketing refers to the application of marketing ethics into the marketing process. It involves making marketing decisions that are morally right and acceptable, and respects the principles of honesty, fairness, and responsibility in all marketing activities.
There's also a strong business case for it: ethical marketing not only helps in building a good reputation but also fosters customer loyalty and enhances business growth, meanwhile it enables organisations to communicate their values and mission to a wider audience. By aligning business goals with social and environmental responsibility, ethical marketing paves the way for purpose-driven businesses and ethical brands prioritising people and the planet. How?
Conscious Consumption: By harnessing the power of ethical marketing, businesses can encourage conscious consumption, and inspire other organisations to follow suit.
Social Impact: Ethical marketing empowers businesses to create lasting impact beyond the bottom line.
Sustainable Business Growth: Ethical marketing contributes to sustainable business growth. It helps in attracting and retaining customers, which leads to increased sales and profits.
Business as a Force for Good: Ethical marketing serves as a catalyst for transforming the world of business into a force for good. It enables organisations to build purpose-driven businesses and ethical brands that prioritise the well-being of people and the planet.
Building Corporate Reputation: Ethical marketing helps in building a good corporate reputation. Companies that adhere to ethical marketing practices are viewed positively by consumers, stakeholders, and the general public.
Customer Loyalty: Customers are more likely to stay loyal to companies that practice ethical marketing. They appreciate businesses that are honest and transparent in their dealings.
Regulatory Compliance: Ethical marketing ensures that a company complies with all the relevant marketing laws and regulations. This helps in avoiding legal issues and penalties.
Implementing Ethical Marketing
It's not difficult to see why companies should strive to implement ethical marketing in their operations. But how? Here are a few examples:
Develop an Ethical Marketing Policy: The first step in implementing ethical marketing is to develop an ethical marketing policy. This policy should clearly outline the company's commitment to ethical marketing and provide guidelines on how to achieve it.
Training and Education: Employees should be trained and educated on the importance of ethical marketing. They should be made aware of the company's ethical marketing policy and how to adhere to it.
Monitoring and Evaluation: The company should regularly monitor and evaluate its marketing activities to ensure that they are in line with the ethical marketing policy. Any deviations should be promptly addressed and corrected.
Transparency: The company should be transparent in its marketing activities. This involves providing accurate and honest information to customers and stakeholders.
Stakeholder Engagement: The company should engage with its stakeholders on a regular basis. This includes customers, employees, suppliers, and the community. Stakeholder engagement helps in identifying any ethical issues and addressing them in a timely manner.
In short, ethical marketing emphasises empathy, fairness, honesty, responsibility and transparency, with a strong perspective on sustainability and inclusivity, and it can have a profound impact on both businesses and our planet.
Below is my ever-growing online library of books, articles, podcasts, community platforms, frameworks, and other useful links. Explore these insightful resources to better understand ethical business practices and their significance.
Communities and Movements
The Ethical Move - a movement for ethical marketing with a pledge (which I took), a community, a blog and a brilliant resource library.
MarketingKind - a community of marketers, business leaders & change makers who come together to make marketing mean more.
Conscious Advertising Network - CAN is a UK-based international coalition of over 180 advertisers, agencies, tech providers and civil society groups. They’re breaking the economic link between advertising and the harmful content that divides communities, excludes diverse voices, exploits children, and undermines scientific consensus.
Podcasts and Talks on Ethical Business & Ethical Marketing
Ethics in Marketing - A podcast for marketers who strive to become more ethical professionals by Mikhail Myzgin.
The Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation Podcast - It doesn't focus on ethical marketing, but you will hear countless brilliant examples of ethical profit-making.
Websites, Apps, Directories and Books on Ethical Business & Ethical Marketing
Good On You App - ethical brand ratings
Ethical Consumer - all the information and inspiration you need to revolutionise the way you spend, save and live.
Good Business Charter - a simple accreditation which organisations in the UK can sign up to in recognition of responsible business practices.
The Ethical Design Handbook - A practical handbook on ethical design for digital products, with practical techniques to make honest interfaces. You can also download Ethical Design Scorecards and Ethical Blueprints from the website.
Ethical Marketing and The New Consumer by Chris Arnold
The Ethical Capitalist: How to Make Business Work Better for Society by Julian Richer
The Ethical Leader: Why Doing the Right Thing Can Be the Key to Competitive Advantage by Morgen Witzel
Greener Marketing by John Grant
Authentic Marketing: How to Capture Hearts and Minds Through the Power of Purpose by Larry Weber
The Sustainable Business: A Practitioner's Guide to Achieving Long-Term Profitability and Competitiveness by Jonathan T. Scott
Conscious Capitalism Field Guide: Tools for Transforming Your Organization by Raj Sisodia
Policies, Frameworks, and Regulations
AMA Statement of Ethics - Ethical Values by the American Marketing Association (Honesty, Responsibility, Fairness, Respect, Transparency and Citizenship).
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) - the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development
Things You Can Do Today
Use Ecosia and plant trees while you search the web.
Calculate your carbon footprint and fund climate action with Ecologi.
Become a B Corp and build an inclusive, equitable, and regenerative economy.
Join the Better Business Network and increase your social and environmental impact.
Transition to a fossil-free internet with The Green Web Foundation.
Join 1% for the Planet and help fund diverse environmental organisations.
Don't know how to get started with ethical marketing? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and discover your options. Embrace the power of ethical branding and marketing, and become a force for good!
Contact me if you think I should add something to this blog article - I look forward to hearing from you!