As a B Corporation, Colibri continues to refine ethical practices that support our social responsibility goals. Terms like social responsibility and marketing ethics often get confused, and it can be hard to follow the business world’s latest jargon. The idea of social responsibility is abstract, but how you apply it to your everyday work has a real impact.  

Here’s a look at how fostering ethical marketing practices fits into the bigger picture of your organization’s responsibility to society and the planet we all share. 

The Difference Between Social Responsibility and Marketing Ethics

Social Responsibility

Consider social responsibility as an ethical framework for how you conduct yourself, or your organization, as a citizen of the world. In other words, what do we owe each other in order to live cooperatively and sustainably?  However you answer this question reflects the values you hold that influence every decision you make. 

Marketing Ethics

It’s all too easy to make business decisions without others in mind. This is where marketing ethics come in. Marketing ethics are how you apply social responsibility to your day-to-day business practices. 

Social responsibility is the big picture. It considers the effect your company and marketing have on the world. Marketing ethics are more specific. It’s the practice of examining every decision you or your company makes in order to ensure it aligns with your values. 

Real-World Impacts of Marketing Ethics

An example of great marketing ethics in action is the apparel company Bombas. For every pair of socks Bombas sells, they donate a pair to homeless shelters. Their Million Pair video tells the story of their brand, highlights their mission-driven practices, thanks their customers, and serves as a testimonial to promote their product.

The video portrays Bombas’s ethics in the form of an advertisement. Ethical marketing means your moral code supports every marketing decision you make. For Bombas, it wasn’t enough to reach their sales goals ― they also chose to give back, winning them a loyal customer base along the way. 

Marketing Ethically to Reach Your Social Responsibility Goals

What do these practices look like in real life? Imagine you own a makeup company that uses recyclable packaging and environmentally friendly ingredients. Your social responsibility would be about taking care of the planet ― that’s why you chose the packaging and materials you did.

For this company’s ethical marketing, you need to ensure you avoid greenwashing, or the practice of making a product sound more environmentally friendly than it is. That means if you say your packaging is 100% recyclable in an ad, then it better be. On another level, you need to choose marketing channels that align with your values. For example, sending out a booklet laminated with plastic that can’t be recycled would undermine the company’s product and ethics. 

The Bottom Line 

To make the world a better place through your work, you must define your social responsibility goals. Then you can work with your team to create organizational practices to support your goals.

At Colibri Digital Marketing, we believe in serving with integrity, courtesy, and the senses of humor and joy. That means we will never be dishonest. In every aspect of our business, from the wording of an ad to reporting on our social responsibility, we are transparent. We aim to create positive relationships ― that is our social responsibility ― and so, by being honest in our duties, we are working towards that goal.

Looking for tailored, mission-driven marketing for your business? Schedule a meeting with us and get your free digital marketing strategy session!