You don’t need a business school study to tell you that cause branding matters to your business. You can just ask your customers.
Large percentages of consumers (and business customers are just consumers that have to rationalize their decisions a bit more) are heavily influenced in their purchase decisions by the values and practices they associate with your brand. And this trend has lasting implications for brands, as the cohorts who report the strongest affinity for cause branding are post-Millennials, who are today making preferred-brand decisions that can last another half-century.
But there’s a big difference between sticking your logo on a t-shirt or in a program and investing in cause branding that lasts. To illustrate, I’ll use the example of one of our long-term clients, ScherZinger Pest Control.
Operating in Columbus, Dayton and Cincinnati, ScherZinger is a fourth-generation, family-owned business with a tradition of effective, professional and responsible service. The company’s cause branding is a model for similar brands because their community investments flow so seamlessly with their company mission and brand identity. Some examples:
Cause Branding Rule #1
Align Your Brand with Causes and Institutions Your Customers Care About
Many of our most beloved cultural institutions face a dilemma: They need to protect their people, their property and their other assets from harmful and invasive pests, while still protecting the safety of their visitors and staff, as well as the environment.
For example, one of Cincinnati’s most popular attractions, Krohn Conservatory in Eden Park, faced an invasion of ghost ants (Tapinoma melanocephalum). These tiny beasts are all but invisible to the naked eye and extremely aggressive. Native to the tropics, they likely hitchhiked in on one of the plants in the Krohn collection. ScherZinger, with its own team of professional entomologists, had the in-house expertise to safely and responsibly control the harmful pests.
Most of the sources the conservatory consulted recommended stereotypical solutions like sprays and foggers. That was a non-starter for Krohn, as the chemicals used would be harmful to sensitive plants at the conservatory and deadly for the pollinators and other beneficial insects that are a vital part of the exhibit. ScherZinger entomologists designed a custom solution to mitigate the immediate problem and help prevent future infiltrations without upsetting the ecology of the conservatory.
Cause Branding Rule #2
Support Projects and Movements that Relate to Your Brand and Your Business
An important pillar of ScherZinger’s brand platform is responsibility. Their professional code requires them to protect people and property from unwanted pests in a manner that’s consistent with the principles of sustainability and environmental stewardship.
One of ScherZinger’s more recent cause branding initiatives highlights this ethos. Through a partnership with the Dayton Society of Natural History, ScherZinger is helping to install and maintain a new honeybee habitat at the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery. When complete later this year, the hive will educate visitors about the significant role the bees play in our ecosystem and our economy, as well as the importance of the professional and responsible use of pest control treatments.
Cause Branding Rule #3
Engage for the Long Term
Since 1994, ScherZinger has sponsored the popular ScherZinger Butterfly Garden, outside Krohn Conservatory. In addition to being a much-loved attraction for families, the garden is also an important way station for Monarch butterflies on their long migration, offering scientists an opportunity to measure the health of the wild population.
“We do get questions from time-to-time about a pest control company having a cause-branding relationship with an insect exhibit, but that’s kind of the point,” said ScherZinger Vice President Eric Scherzinger. “Serving customers with professionalism means protecting the environment and particularly the insects that are beneficial to people and important in our ecology.”
Cause Branding Rule #4
Make Your Cause Branding Part of Your Culture
Perhaps the most important characteristic of ScherZinger’s cause branding is that they do so much more than just sign sponsorship checks. It’s integrally part of their brand culture.
In addition to providing highly specialized treatments to some of their cause branding partners, ScherZinger employees are personally engaged with the organizations ScherZinger works with. Their people invest their time and talent in the causes. And that’s not just attending the awards banquet or the ribbon cutting. Entry-level office staff, service technicians, professional entomologists and even ownership can be found volunteering, working as unpaid docents or even lending their labor to construction or clean-up projects.
“Our father taught us the tradition that supporting the community is part of our job,” said Kurt Scherzinger, president of ScherZinger Pest Control. “It not only protects these places that are so important to our neighbors, but it also helps us demonstrate that not all pest control companies just want to spray it down or fog it up. Pests can be managed safely and responsibly.”
Since 1934, ScherZinger Pest Control has been an innovator for the safe and responsible protection of residences, businesses and public spaces. Serving homeowners and businesses in Cincinnati, Northern Kentucky, Columbus and Dayton, the company continues to partner with cultural and non-profit organizations to preserve the heritage of our shared communities.
And we’re proud to say they’ve been our client for 30 years.