Is your brand on its best behavior? Ask BrandKarma

Craig Davis, Chief Creative Officer at Publicis Mojo and a fellow Aussie, just launched a wonderful site to help people distinguish between good (karma) brands and bad (karma) brands. It’s called BrandKarma and it’s the first brand-centric social media platform.

As you can see from the image it allows you to select companies by sector and see their ranking in terms of their conscionable behavior (illustrated using a color-coded flower).

Brandkarma’s mission is straightforward, “to help everyone make better brand choices and influence brand behavior for good.”

Tools such as this are critical in the regulation of the new dialogue between brands and consumers. The internet has already created unprecedented transparency into brand behavior while social networks have given consumers a collective voice. Sites such as these will become the public monitoring systems that directly impact people’s buying decisions.

As consumer tools become increasingly sophisticated, brands need to become even more serious about the impact of every aspect of their behavior. The corporate veil is gone and consumers expect more from them than just a decent product.

I encourage everyone to participate both so that their voices are heard and so that brands know that consumers expect them them to embrace their shared responsibility for the well-being of the planet and its people.

Here’s an interview that Craig did previously in which he explains BrandKarma in his own words.

What was the core objective of launching ‘Brandkarma’?

The idea is to keep brands honest.

Brands are massively influential.  With BrandKarma, we’re trying to create a new, more expansive and enlightened conversation around brands.   How do they treat their customers, their employees, suppliers, investors and the environment?

Brandkarma is designed to aggregate and represent our collective wisdom.  It will never be perfect, but it should be an important indicator and great character reference for brands.

Kindly throw some light on what Brandkarma is all about?

It’s a personal project that I’ve been working on for a while.  It’s the world’s first brand-centric social media platform and it’s now in a public beta phase, so anyone is welcome to join the conversation.

The platform brings together three rapidly escalating truths.

1.  More and more people understand that their purchase decisions have consequences.

2.  Most people want to do the right thing, if only they knew what that was.

3.  People increasingly trust each other – family, friends, colleagues and complete strangers – to inform their decisions more than governments, business leaders and advertising.

We thought that we could pull those things together by creating a social media platform that had a mission – “to help everyone make better brand choices and influence brand behavior for good”.

If it starts to inform purchase decisions, it just might accelerate brand owners toward ethical and sustainable business practice.

That’s why the first thing we say on the site is, “Choose good brands.  Change brands for good”.

Who is it targeted to?

Anyone who is conscious of the need to re-think the notion of progress.

I’ve seen several research studies that show people everywhere are concerned about a raft of issues that often get lumped under the term, “sustainability”.

The Henley Centre has done a lot of work on this.  Their segmentation indicates that about half the world’s population would like to make good choices.

It’s not just the western world thinking this way, people everywhere are concerned.  The numbers vary a bit, but there are a lot of people who want to turn that concern into action.

We want some of those people to add their voices to an intelligent conversation around brands and the way they behave.

Who is considered competitors?

There are plenty of product review sites that look at product performance. And there is a lot of science around life cycle assessment and energy consumption.  But it most cases they’re looking at a product and not a brand and they tend not to look at all the key stakeholder groups.

We want to harness the wisdom of the crowd and recognize the brands that are doing well by all their customers, employees, suppliers, investors and mother earth. I think we’re the only people approaching it that way.

What is its differentiating factor?

We believe there’s wisdom in the crowd – none of us is as smart as all of us.

We’re not editorializing opinion, we’re making it easy for people to express their views, then we’re aggregating those opinions and making them clear with a colorful and comparable visual language.

The idea is to create a dynamic space in which good brand behavior is recognized and bad behavior is called out loud and clear.  Then people can make up their own minds about brands.

What’s the business model?

At the moment there isn’t one.

We’re focused on trying to solve the problem we set out to tackle. It’s important and valuable and if we do it well there may be a business in there somewhere.

How do you create awareness of your site?

Through interviews and presentations and word of mouth.

We’re hoping there are enough people out there who want to become an activist with a small “a” and start sharing, amplify and mobilizing their opinions.

We’ve created Brandkarma with a high level of media connectivity and every active user has the potential to be a powerful media producer themselves via Facebook, Twitter, email, Digg etc.

Do you think the brands/clients that are listed on your site would also analyze their brands to get a better review?

I believe brand owners could be very interested in learning from BrandKarma. It’s rich, real-time information that might help create better brands. Our responsibility is to ensure that it represents user opinions with integrity and that people aren’t gaming the system.

Simon here again. I’d love to know your thoughts on BrandKarma and how you think brands will respond?