With the rise of consumer expectations for environmental stewardship and social responsibility, combined with the worldwide long-term shift towards conscious consumption, perhaps the time's right to consider the new criteria rennaisance brands must meet to prosper.
We might call them "The Fab Five."
1. They honor the importance of a corporate conscience (Ethics).
Milton Friedman declared, "The business of business is business." Not these days; companies that ignore public sentiment make themselves vulnerable to attack and will be punished in the markets. No longer can they make the environment an externality.
Indeed, in a Wirthlin Worldwide survey 82% of those questioned said that corporate citizenship has "at least some influence" on their buying decisions. The internet has brought a new level of business transparency where actions are as important as what companies say in their marketing; and nothing kills a brand faster than saying one thing in your advertising, and doing another.
2. They adhere to global labor standards and practices (Wages).
They support Global Fair Trade agreements and undertake a responsibility to support a fair and honest marketplace. As Nike discovered to their cost, one ill-advised production decision to have Vietnamese twelve-year-olds manufacture sneakers in sweat shops caused untold harm to their brand and undid a decade of great advertising.
3. They tread lightly on the planet (Environment).
They strive to reduce their ecological footprint and deliver a product or service whereby no human being or animal is harmed (inhumanely slaughtered) by the manufacture of its goods or service.
4. They run counter to the global consolidation trend (Choice).
This isn't anti-globalization, it's anti-consolidation––anything that limits consumer choice.
In first decade of the American auto industry there were 346 different car companies. Buick, Cadillac and Chevrolet were all independent before they merged to form General Motors. And now we're down to two, which is really no choice at all.
5. They espouse sustainability for future generations (The Future).
They're moving toward sustainability in their business models and preserving our planet's non-renewable resources for those unborn.
150 years ago American Calvinists said "Business is about making money, and life is about doing good, and the two are not mutually exclusive."
It seems there's nothing new except that which has been forgotten.