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Despite evidence to the contrary, there’s still a perception among businesses that doing good doesn’t make a difference to how customers view their brand or how the business performs.

One explanation for this might be that CSR historically operated at arm’s length from the rest of the business activities were generally piecemeal or defensive.

When businesses do good in this way employees and customers are generally unmoved by the efforts – that’s if they even notice them in the first place.

The comms team are left with a perception that the media doesn’t care about their attempts to do good and the commercial side of the business cynically believes that customers might say they care but they don’t act on it in their buying decisions. And so the consequence is there’s little appetite at a senior level to do more.

This kind of dabbling in doing good might, in some cases, help a business defend its licence to operate but it’s not going to make a significant different to brand reputation.

However, operating with true social purpose can transform the reputation of the business.

Purpose is significant, sustained and supported by stakeholders across the business. It isn’t a CEO passion project or a knee jerk response to a criticism.

The business purpose will dictate where and how to be a force for good and all subsequent activities can be joined together through a clear narrative that audiences internally and externally can understand and engage with.

Before businesses write off the power of purpose they should reflect on the efforts that have gone before and question whether they were really doing enough.