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The first pillar of Brand Aid, branding, is about conveying a mark to consumers. It is a commitment to consistently delivering a material and symbolic experience of a certain quality. Brands have a monetary value of their own, with many of the most successful ones representing more than 40 percent of the owning company’s total market value. But as brands can become valuable assets with proper management, they can also turn into liabilities. They are vulnerable to negative media exposure, which in turn can affect consumers’ brand perception and shopping choices. Managing the ethical profile of a brand is therefore a key issue for companies. This can be done by adhering to codes of conduct, labeling, and certification schemes on labor, environmental, and social issues related to production and trade.

Brand Aid can be an attractive vector for building the ethical component of brand reputation and for turning brands into icons. It does not question the fundamentals of “hard commerce” and at the same time can help increase sales, visibility, and brand equity.

In the case of RED, Brand Aid also helps to shift attention from the product to a cause by enacting the myth of “just capitalism,” a capitalism that is good for all, a win-win solution to the world’s most pressing problems.

The fact that RED is a co-branding exercise helps in managing individual brand risk by spreading the risk of failure or of negative repercussions among several brands and by externalizing it to the nonproduct brand, RED itself.

Involvement in Product RED by selected companies/brands

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