Four Methods to Help Companies Communicate Social Value Effectively

Author: Mingmin Zhang Oct 16, 2023 02:24 PM (GMT+8)

For decades, whether in China or elsewhere in the world, the topic of social value has been widely discussed and enacted by companies in various forms. In realizing social value, companies either consciously identify and address societal issues, aligning their business models to these solutions, or they direct some of their focus towards achieving societal value, looking across their supply chain for viable paths.


Jiang Yufei, Director of B Corps China, once mentioned in a media interview that as companies grow, they often seek to demonstrate their social value by joining organizations like B Corps that have evaluation systems. This helps them communicate their company culture on an international scale. "Business for Good" is a concept born from the union of social value and business practices. As Chinese enterprises expand overseas, this notion can serve as a universal language, indicating that while companies seek profits, they also actively undertake social responsibilities. This involves promoting social welfare and sustainable development, considering and implementing environmental protection, social fairness, and sustainable economic practices. The concepts of "Business for Good", sustainability, and ESG often overlap. Currently, organizations like Benificial Lab, GIIRS, GRI, and the Beijing Leping Public Welfare Foundation offer assessment systems and support to evaluate a company's social value and impact.


How can companies translate their benevolent efforts into successful narratives, enabling their target customers and the general public to understand and support their ventures, thereby better penetrating new markets or expanding their international presence? EqualOcean has observed several common strategies in how companies communicate their social value:

Make products the embodiment of both business and social value

Unlike charitable organizations, "Business for Good" companies rely on core products to sustain their operations. Embedding concepts like "sustainability" and "eco-friendliness" in product design can merge economic and societal values. Along the supply chain, focusing on R&D, sustainable sourcing, and refining product design, production, and sales processes is key.

For instance, U.S. outdoor clothing company Patagonia integrates its mission to "save the planet" and "protect the environment" into product designs, using recycled and biodegradable materials. Similarly, Chinese beauty brands under the umbrella of the E-commerce company Yatsen (Chinese: 逸仙电商), like Perfect Diary, PinkBear, and LittleOndine, have revamped their packaging, emphasizing eco-friendly materials and reducing carbon footprints and plastic usage.

Initiate topics on online platforms

Transitioning from offline to online, internet platforms have become pivotal for companies to market and spread their ideologies. Setting up dedicated sections on official websites to detail their CSR activities and achievements can effectively convey their message.

For example, Johnson & Johnson has a "Caring and Giving" section on their website that shares stories about their commitment to environmental conservation, carbon reduction, employee welfare, gender equality, and racial equality. These narratives are also disseminated across social media platforms.

Engage through collaborations and diversify outreach

Engaging non-corporate entities and leveraging co-creation can touch a broader audience. Collaborations can help companies amplify their message. For instance, Nespresso's coffee capsule recycling initiative involves collaborations with environmental organizations, local farms, and artists.

Align actions with universally recognized standards

By relying on internationally recognized evaluation standards and codes of conduct, companies can enhance their influence in value communication. On one hand, they can participate in initiatives launched by non-governmental organizations and international bodies, such as the 'Science Based Targets initiative' and the 'Race to Zero' and 'Business Ambition for 1.5°C' campaigns led by the United Nations Global Compact. Within the framework of these initiatives, companies can set a series of goals and use them for long-term adjustment of their strategic direction and external publicity.

On the other hand, by participating in and being certified as a member of certain organizations (for example, B Corp), companies can reduce the barriers for the audience to understand their actions and leverage the positive impact of this membership as a backdrop and motivation to address social issues.

Effectively communicating a company's social value can not only help sculpt a responsible corporate image, reflecting the company's values and sound business practices to generate more business opportunities but also establish a dialogue with stakeholders and inspire society towards benevolent development. As Chinese companies strive to expand overseas and tell their stories, they might consider integrating social responsibility into their narrative, sharing their journey of merging business with benevolence.