– what are they, who are they and how to find out if you are one

We had the acid test this last year on brands. Brands who stepped up during the pandemic, who looked after their people and helped us all ride the wave. They lifted us up and helped make our lives better. That acid test has instigated a new brand differentiator. The ‘Conscious’ brand.

‘Conscious’ means to be awake, alert, aware of and responding to your surroundings, sentient, responsive, reactive. To be deliberate. It is those attributes that you need to demonstrate.

Microsoft ’empowering every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.’

It’s not a bolt-on. ‘Green washing’ a brand won’t work, like hair dye, the colour soon wears off and your true roots start showing. Although commendable, magnanimous even, donating a bit here and there to a worthy cause won’t wash on its own either.

Conscious brands are brands that work from the inside out, the top down, the bottom up. It’s not the new CSR policy. Conscious brands have a clear point of view on how they benefit and positively contribute to society. It’s in their DNA. They take conscious actions that positively impact the people they serve. For these brands, their reward is brand loyalty.

Over half of consumers (57%) believe that brands need to do more to positively impact society.

So how do we know who these fantastic brand beasts are?

We know because of the Wolff Olins + Hall & Partners report: Conscious Brands 100

The study was global and comprised of 9,000 consumers and 223 brands identifying the world’s leading conscious brands in the UK, US and China. They evaluated brands against multiple ‘conscious’ dimensions; do they take action to make the world a better place, do they drive reform and social change, embrace diversity, inspire community?

So, it’s no wonder brands like Microsoft (who gave us ‘Teams’ for one), Pfizer and AstraZeneca who developed life-saving vaccines are listed in the top 100 conscious brands, along with the likes of Google, Netflix, Disney and Pixar who use conscious campaign stories to champion social change in the areas of diversity and sustainabilty.

You can find the report at Wolff Olins, and take a test to see how you measure as a conscious brand.

I can’t turn you into a conscious brand, but one thing the top 100 brands have in common is that at their heart is a leader who wanted to do something good for us with their great idea when they started their company, and wants to continue be useful. They know that to get the best out of people you work with, you need to have mutual respect, that brings natural growth.

It make me think of a couple of old sayings like ‘what goes around comes around’ and ‘a rising tide floats all boats’.


Food for thought: We created a vaccine for Covid in under 1 year, that is is no small feat. Covid spurred unprecedented global cooperation for vaccine research and distribution. Perhaps we could get behind another pressing global emergency?


The moment we decide to fulfill something, we can do anything.
― Greta Thunberg

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