Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Do Brands Have Ethos?

Ethos (pronounced /ˈiːθɒs/) is an English word based on a Greek word and denotes the guiding beliefs or ideals that characterize a community, a nation or an ideology. Its use in rhetoric is closely based on the Greek terminology used by Aristotle.

That’s the Wikipedia definition of Ethos.

The question is, do brands have ethos? And perhaps even more importantly, should they?

In light of the BP situation, there’s a lot of talk about CSR – corporate social responsibility – and how that concept needs to evolve. After all, over the years, BP has won numerous CSR awards.

It didn’t seem to help them much in a crisis, did it?

CSR is nothing more than a required action from corporations.

What we need from corporations and their brands today are inspired actions. In other words, brands have to operate not just based on ethics, but ethos.

Perhaps CSR needs to evolve – CSR 3.0 – if you will. This new form of CSR would go down to the brand level itself – BSR – or Branded Social Responsibility.

This would allow a brand’s actions (or lack of action) in society to more directly reflect on the bottom line of the brands themselves.

Another way of asking the question that’s posed in the headline above is this: Do brands have a conscious?

Or, better yet, a soul?

And, you know what? Yes, the great ones do.

That's why they’re great.

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