I don’t believe what you say. I believe what you do.

I don’t believe what you say. I believe what you do.

Last week, the Future Business Council released a report titled ‘The Next Boom’  – it outlined how Australia is well placed to tap into rising demand for sustainable goods and services. The report is the first from the Future Business Council, a new body to represent innovative and sustainable businesses in Australia.  Founding members include Airbnb, Australian Ethical, Fairtrade ANZ and Intrepid Travel.

Although newly formed, the Future Business a Council is a good example of how businesses and advocacy groups can join forces for a common purpose.  It’s also a good example of how you can combine the forces of academia and business to create meaningful debate.

For us it also marks something bigger.  In our recent report on brand partnerships we found the future of brand partnerships lies in brands collaborating for action.  In other words, in 2016 we expect to see brands expand the remit of their partnerships by using those partnerships to rally for causes or issues they know will strike a chord with their target consumers.

Open for Business is an international example of this approach in practice.  The collaboration of brands, including American Express and and Virgin, describes itself as “a coalition of global companies making the case that inclusive, diverse societies are better for business and better for economic growth.”  The first output of Out for Business was a report that built the business and economic case for LGBT inclusion, which will become the basis for outreach programs in countries with anti LGBT sentiment.

That’s a noble cause but of course the brands involved also have something to gain.  Consumers are cynical of what businesses say so brands need new ways to engage people in an authentic manner.  Initiatives such as the Future Business Council and Open for Business give them opportunities to do this.  In the case of the brands behind Open for Business it means they can talk credibly about equality because they’ve got some proof points in the bank.  

At a time when the challenges of cutting through to consumers and brand cynicism are at an all-time high, there’s a lot to be said for taking action and then communicating that action.  As Alastair Campbell once said, “what you do is more important than what you say, but how you say what you do will help you if you are doing the right thing.”