BrandKarma: How customers rate and reward socially responsible brands

Today I wanted to write about the relaunch of BrandKarma, which I have mentioned before as one of the examples of platforms that empower customers to be mindful consumers, and therefore help to create a private sector that also functions as a third pillar of social change in support of government and philanthropy. Its site gives a voice to the social community that cares about the world we live in, and the world we leave our kids. What’s more, it recognizes the right of every citizen or customer to have a say in which companies succeed and which are encouraged to change their behavior.

What BrandKarma did was to create a platform that made it easy for you to see the brands holistically, and to share your opinions about them wherever and whenever you want. In doing so, it redefines a customer’s relationship with brands. For too long, advertising has thrived on the basis of media monopolies that basically told us what to think, do and buy. Now, BrandKarma empowers consumers to judge brands on the basis of how good their products are, how they treat people and how they look after the planet. It does this with a view to a sustainable practice of capitalism, which ultimately is in the service of companies themselves because brands cannot survive in societies that fail.

To facilitate this new customer engagement, BrandKarma has done four things:

They give customers the power to rate companies so that brands start to value the social capital and influence that a brand has amongst its customer community.

By extension, it also gives customers a chance to make suggestions about how brands could make their products differently or provide an improved service.

In the third stage, it enables customers to amplify their opinions by leveraging social media to share the brands they support with others using channels like Facebook and Twitter.

Finally, BrandKarma allows you to make an informed purchasing decision by allowing you to compare brands by industry, and choose ethical, socially responsible products when you want to make a purchase.

All this input is then factored into what is an aggregate score for a brand, or what they call a “Karma Score”, and BrandKarma lists the top 100 rankings on its site. It further breaks out a rating for the product, people and planet peculiar to that brand, and tracks the relative standing of each brand over time, incentivizing brands to upgrade their commitment to sustainability.

It’s no accident that a platform such as BrandKarma was developed by veteran brander himself, Craig Davis. The fact that the platform was started by someone who has worked for years in the service of brands is instructive as to the importance of social currency towards profitability and brand reputation in the future. Companies of all types would be well-advised to respond to the drivers that inform BrandKarma, and work with the platform itself to inspire customer loyalty, goodwill and profits. In doing so, they will not only insure their own well-being, they will improve society at large and the sustainability of the planet, not just for themselves, but for generations to come.

Do you think it’s important for consumers to tell brands what they think? What are the best ways you think BrandKarma can get others involved in its platform?