Branding for Social Good

With the opening of Alaska's first Goodwill® store in March 2016, Goodwill is now officially in all 50 states.

It has been really exciting to watch the Alaska territory grow from the launch of its first Goodwill job connection center in 2014 to its first store this year. Today there are two job connection centers, a store, another standalone donation center, a couple warehouses, 40 employees, and it's growing. Our 50th state is taking off.

At the opening of the Goodwill store in Anchorage, Goodwill Industries of Alaska Board Member Steve Fishback said, "I think almost anywhere else you say 'I'm going to Goodwill' and that means something, and now it will in Anchorage."

"I'm going to Goodwill" can mean different things to different people. Maybe it means, "I'm going thrifting," or "I'm going to donate a pair of jeans that no longer fit me." That's good and fair. I hope it also means, "I'm going to Goodwill for help with my résumé and interview skills so I can further my career," or "I'm going to Goodwill to donate my rain boots because my donation will help fund Goodwill's job training programs."

"I'm going to Goodwill" carries weight because of our brand equity.

I'm not just talking about the recognition of our iconic Smiling G logo or the Goodwill blue shirts worn by many of our team members. A brand is more than a visual identity. A brand is the value, power and feeling that an organization develops through the experiences of donors, consumers, and the people we serve. Every interaction with a Goodwill product, service or team member has created a brand identity and develops Goodwill's reputation and value.

In the impact and sharing economy, brand can't be one-directional in a traditional provider/consumer sense; instead, brands are built as collaborative and reciprocal relationships. For Goodwill, our brand promise is that Goodwill organizations unite caring for people with enterprise to empower people to build communities that work. We put people first and empower individuals and families through community-based programs. The nature of brand value has a lot to do with today's global consumer, who actively seeks to purchase responsible products when possible and have high expectations for companies to address social and environmental issues. Our social media world gives individuals the power to advocate for their beliefs and address neglected social problems; it is not surprising that those organizations whose brands are associated with strong social good messaging float to the top.

Some marketing agencies have even started to quantify brand value as defined by shareholders instead of as defined by direct financial value. This summer enso, an agency creating world value through mission-driven creativity, published the 2016 Brand World Value Index. More than 3,000 people were asked how they perceived the "world value" of 149 well-known companies and organizations based on the following criteria:

• Awareness of Purpose: What does the brand stand for, beyond making money?
• Alignment with Purpose: Is the company's purpose something that aligns with what people care about?
• Active Support: Is the company's purpose something that people would publicly support?
• Impact on Purchase: Does the company's purpose motivate people to buy from the brand?

Businesses implement and contribute to change in our communities as they interact with consumers on a daily basis. The perception of a brand's purpose is therefore an important measure when it comes to organization and consumer relationships. We were delighted to see that Goodwill's brand value is resonating with our shoppers and donors, with Goodwill ranked #1 overall as the brand doing the most good in the world. Goodwill was ranked at the top of the list by 80 percent of the audiences surveyed and is near the top of both awareness of purpose and active support categories. Goodwill organizations thrive in brand relationships because they are local community organizations that fit into the lives of individuals and families, not the other way around. Goodwill's autonomous structure and social enterprise model supports and fosters local engagement and innovation, leading to local solutions in our communities.

The exact meaning of "I'm going to Goodwill" may vary from community to community, but the power of the Goodwill brand ensures that our customers, donors and participants consistently feel the value of the caring community enterprise that Goodwill brings to each city and state from Atlanta to Anchorage.