Humanability. It’s a relatively new word that means doing more good things for the world. And, it appears that many consumers want — and expect — humanability from brands.
A 2018 Sprout Social survey titled “Championing Change in the Age of Social Media” concluded that more brands must consider how to effect social change. The report noted, “Two-thirds of consumers (66%) say it’s important for brands to take public stands on social and political issues, and more than half (58%) are open to this happening on social media — the top channel for consumer receptivity.” Also, consumers believe brands that leverage social media to support specific causes, including participating in events or donating to these causes, do a better job.
However, many companies still may not know how to redirect their company mission. That’s when it helps when other brands illustrate what can be accomplished. For example, Verizon and Made Of are driving social change. Verizon is creating a group of “pioneers.” These pioneers are people, organizations, and companies that embody humanability.
Taking a different approach, Made Of provides numerous educational channels for parents as well as making baby products from safe, organic-first ingredients. I spoke to representatives of both brands to learn more about how they are making a difference.
Verizon’s Humanability in Hawaii
Verizon partnered with Hawaiian Electric to help them reach their goal of 100% renewable energy by 2045. To do this, they are developing an expanding network of solar panels integrated into their smart grid. Verizon’s Grid-Wide Utility Solution uses smart sensors embedded into electric meters that collect near real-time data on the amount of energy being generated.
This gives Hawaiian Electric visibility into how much energy is being sent to the grid from their rooftop solar programs. This directs when to redeploy that energy to maximize efficiencies and ensure grid stability. By leveraging a sustainable energy source like solar power and combining it with IoT sensors connected to Verizon’s network, Verizon is helping Hawaii protect their environment and achieve sustainability goals.
Authentic Brand Involvement
The challenge for brands is to get involved in social causes in authentic ways. That’s because there are cynics that think brands like Verizon are only using these situations to promote their brand. However, Diego Scotti, CMO of Verizon, disagrees. “We are leveraging our technology, our network, and our assets to help people accomplish good things. Our partnership with Hawaiian Electric is just one example of how people are engaging with our technology to impact society. We want people to see the incredible transformation that our technology is driving — it’s all real, it’s all happening.”
Scotti noted that Verizon’s technology is also being used in healthcare, telematics, and smart cities. As a result, they are enabling robotic surgery, keeping the global food chain supply safe, and helping cities like Sacramento manage traffic congestion and pollution.
Social Causes Are a Brand’s Responsibility
To Scotti and the team at Verizon, it’s an absolute responsibility to walk the walk with social causes. “We do this by showcasing what Verizon can do with the power of our network. Also, we highlight all the amazing people who are innovating in technology to make a positive social difference.”
Verizon partnered with PFSK to launch Pioneers of Humanability, which is a list of people, companies, and organizations that are greatly impacting society. This includes people like Ariel Waldman, an adviser to NASA and founder of Spacehack.org, which is a directory of ways for anyone to participate in space exploration. Also, there is Komal Ahmad, the founder of Copia, an excess food management solution that enables businesses and event organizers to request pick-ups of their excess food so they can donate it.
“The list goes on and on, and it’s truly inspiring,” adds Scotti.”
Adfellows is also another strong proof point of taking concrete action to drive change. Diversity has been a long-standing challenge for the marketing industry.
This is a program that Verizon built from the ground up. It offers recent college graduates an integrated experience across the client and agency side. It’s a unique marketing training program that helps to create a pipeline of diverse talent and provides access, training, and perspectives to create a more diverse future.
Verizon also has a significant stake in education. Since 2012, the company has provided free technology and Internet access as well as hands-on learning experiences to underserved students. So far, Verizon has helped one million students and committed up to $400 million by 2023 to help millions more.
Made Of Takes Its Own Approach to Social Causes
After more than two years of R&D, qualitative and quantitative research, and beta launches, Made Of launched in the summer of 2018 with its own site and through Amazon Marketplace. In addition, the brand is onboarding vendors, such as Walmart.com, Jet.com, iHerb, VitaCost.com, and Kroger.com.
The company started with the desire to help more consumers realize many existing natural brands are not exactly natural. According to Igor Bekker, co-founder of Made Of, “Our goal is to drive awareness and educate the consumer. Eight months prior to product launch, we launched an education portal that discusses ‘everything baby’ in addition to driving awareness about toxicity, ingredient benefits, and regulation.”
To build trust, Made Of partners with mom communities like bloggers, Facebook groups, and event planners focused on health and wellness. They developed the Parent-Parent forum on their product pages. There, parents can ask questions, leave reviews that include images or videos, respond to other parents, and get expert advice.
Driven by a Passion to Help Others
Made Of began with the sole purpose of offering better products for consumers. Bekker explained, “We believe health and wellness are dependent on everyday products we use. It’s no longer just important to look at food as being natural/organic. Unfortunately, with the rapid market growth in beauty, [terms like] organic, natural, and transparency hold less value with consumers. This is why we’ve opted for the NSF Organic standard. That’s an independent third party, which can’t be manipulated and holds high trust value.”
Additionally, the company has created the “Ultimate Transparency Promise” because Made Of’s founders believe there should be mandatory transparency in sourcing, testing, and manufacturing.
“Made Of is the first and only brand to disclose our whole product development to the consumer on our site. This means going beyond just disclosing the ingredients on the bottle. We partnered with suppliers to get the origin and safety of each ingredient. Made Of’s testing program surpasses FDA requirements. On each product page, we disclose the test results. Finally, we state each product’s manufacturing location.”
Transparency Is Part of the Social Cause Approach
Many brands use terms like “natural skin care” and “non-toxic.” As Bekker noted, “There are a lot of frogs out there trying to look decent. Our goal is to educate the consumer. We don’t use claims, such as ‘we’re natural,’ even though we are NSF Organic certified. This certification means our products are made from at least 70% organic and 30% natural ingredients. My other favorite claim is ‘Made in the US.’ This claim doesn’t explain if that means the ingredients, product, bottle, or the assembly process is done in the US.”
Instead, Made Of sets itself apart by illustrating how it is a safer brand than the generic “natural” ones. “We source ingredients globally and then vet formulations and ingredients using third-party independent agencies, such as NSF, EWG, Gluten Free, and Vegan. It’s a much better ecosystem of products that are not available on the market today.”
For brands to commit to social causes, they need to apply resources, funding, and a clear purpose that links to the overall business. That can be challenging for some brands, especially considering the speed at which businesses and priorities shift. However, Verizon and Made Of provide benchmarks to prioritize ways to make the world a better place to live and work.
This article originally appeared on Forbes.
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