Visit Us

The Ideas Factory, Curlew Pavilion, Portside Business Park, 189 Airport Road West, Belfast, BT3 9ED

Email Us

Call Us

(028) 9073 0999


Effective Social Responsibility: How Brands Are Doing It

At Whitenoise, we’re guilty of searching for the answer on Google and having the occasional Coca-Cola beverage for that much needed Friday lift, we listen to too much Spotify and watch endless series on Netflix (who doesn’t these days?).

We use these products each day, but what actions are these brands taking to make the world we live in that little bit better? As there has been a significant shift into the digital world, it’s more important than ever for companies to find ways to become sustainable and to build their social impact for positive change. 

A strong corporate social responsibility policy is good for a company's brand. If the company takes responsibility for all of its actions that impact all areas of society as a whole, including economic, environmental, and social, it can be seen in a positive light that individuals are happy and comfortable doing business with and in the long term, this helps the growth of the company.

Statistics that demonstrate the shift in public expectations of corporations:

  • 94% of Gen-Z think companies should address critical external and environmental issues. 
  • 55% of consumers are willing to pay extra for products or services from brands that have dedicated social impact plans.
  • 76% of those surveyed said they would decline to do business with a brand if it held views and supported issues that conflicted with their beliefs.
  • 72% of consumers would be interested in buying a product made entirely/partially from recycled materials.

In a rising trend, consumers are placing growing importance on purpose, expecting brands to contribute to making society better. Implementing policies and programs that are authentic in their objectives is one thing, but aligning objectives with wider business goals to ensure their benefits can be sustained is a considerable challenge for businesses worldwide. 

We’ve taken a look at four of the biggest brands in the world to get under the skin of their journey towards sustainability and how they communicate their social responsibility actions. 

1. Google

With “Just Google It” becoming an everyday phrase, we have become heavily reliant on Google for providing us with answers, facts and news from the internet. Google CEO Sundar Pichai has been outspoken regarding social issues and the company even received the Reputation Institutes’s highest Social Responsibility score, in part due to their sustainability efforts, including a 50% energy reduction in their data centres when compared with competitors in the industry. They also committed over $1 billion to renewable energy projects and encourage other businesses to reduce their environmental impact through services such as Gmail.

With partnerships with non-profits and charities, Google invests in new technology and tools to accelerate meaningful change for local communities.

Although there’s still a long way for Google to go in maintaining its status as a global brand giant, Google must address the requirements and needs of its stakeholders to be a strong contender in the international arena. 

A detailed breakdown of their corporate social responsibility can be found here, and the tools in Google’s communication toolbox often include corporate video, used to effectively explain their Corporate Social Responsibility on a global stage. 

2. Coca-Cola 

One of the world’s most recognised brands, Coca-Cola accumulated and released a whopping 3.7million metric tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere last year. To address this, they have set a target of reducing their carbon footprint by 25% by 2030 and reaching net-zero emissions by 2050. 

As well as this, in the foreseeable future, they promise to:

  • Provide their customers with options and choices in reducing the sugar in their beverages. Reduce their carbon footprint (even more!) and live without waste through the use of sustainable packaging.
  • Return 100% of the water used in their drinks.

Although Coca-Cola is on the way to improving its carbon footprint, the global drinks giant has been ranked the world’s No.1 plastic polluter by Break Free From Plastic (not a title anyone wants associated with). The organisation’s annual audit found that Coca Cola bottles were the most frequently found litter on beaches, rivers parks and other sites. With huge changes to make, this brings home how much effort and work is involved for a company the size of coca-cola to improve their social responsibility. 

A detailed breakdown of their corporate social responsibility can be found here and readers will remember iconic marketing campaigns such as the Coca Cola Life product, with distinctive green packaging representing the products sustainable credentials.  

3. Netflix 

What better way than to direct meaningful change through storytelling, and Netflix is the best in the industry for that. To show their dedication to reducing their carbon footprint, they put together a series of clips together from multiple documentaries to show how important they value a net-zero and sustainable future.

To put this in perspective, watching one hour of Netflix consumes 6.1 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity. This is enough to drive a Tesla Model S more than 30miles, power an LED lightbulb constantly for a month, or boil a kettle once a day for nearly three months. So maybe we should all take it a little easy next time we are binge-watching that series? It’s now up to Netflix to find ways of how they can become more economically friendly. 

A detailed breakdown of their corporate social responsibility can be found here. 

4. Spotify

Spotify has a global reach of over 155 million subscribers and to quote a famous DC comic, “with great power comes great responsibility”. With the average age of listeners being 25 or less, Spotify’s stakeholders are under pressure to demonstrate commitment to their social responsibilities. Spotify explains the rationale behind this is that they exist in the digital space but their business is grounded in the physical world, in offices, listeners around the world and energy consumption.

Actions taken include:

  • Reducing Carbon footprint - their offices run on 100% renewable electricity. 
  • Increased focus on diversity, particularly with regards to mental health issues and now have programmes in place for staff wellbeing. 
  • Increasing female representation in the audio industry with revised hiring practices
  • More environmentally meal options for staff in offices. 

Even though you may think listening to music digitally would be more economically friendly than buying a CD or vinyl - it’s not. Music streaming in 2021 is releasing the highest level of carbon emissions than at any previous point in the history of music. To put some numbers against this, although we can’t see it, we are emitting over 250,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases per year because of the need to run remote servers 24/7. 

A detailed breakdown of Spotify’s corporate social responsibility can be found here which is communicated at length on the company’s corporate website.

Whitenoise: Our steps to increase sustainability and decrease our carbon footprint

Each business has to give back and do good in any way that they can no matter how big or small the steps may be, as long as they move forwards.

At Whitenoise, our teams acknowledge our collective responsibility in helping to protect both our local and global environment and are continually developing our production processes as we work to minimise their impact. 

We rely on valued and trusted relationships with our local supplier and partner base and procure third party services based on sound value, proven production processes and responsible manufacturing/production. We give preference to suppliers that hold ISO 1400 accreditations in environmental policies as standard, while our internal environmental policy outlines our ambitions to use sustainably sourced FSC or recycled paper for printed design projects. Additionally, we have reduced the usage of hard copy printed proofs, establishing a robust digital system for sharing concepts, proofs and final artwork with clients. In our effort to minimise our carbon footprint we are also strong advocates of phone, email and video calls for client briefings and communication. Many of our clients, working with us from as far afield as Europe and Australia, find this communication very effective and enjoy benefiting from the minimised carbon emissions.

Furthermore, we actively support sustainable forest management and partnered with the Woodland Trust in December 2019 to plant over 250 trees in an ongoing partnership and we aim to plant an additional 1000 trees in 2021. 

Within our studio, the Whitenoise environmental policy includes energy-saving functions for electrical equipment and all lighting, waste minimising and adoption of the cycle-to-work scheme to decrease road congestion.

Whitenoise: Our Social Values

We have an established and robust business ethos regarding our corporate social responsibilities. We engage actively with our local community through our work with our charity partners as well as arts and cultural organisations. We are corporate members of the Institute of Designers in Ireland and take a full and active role in outreach as it pertains to our industry. Such activities include schools, college and university outreach and engagement and all-Ireland student placement programmes (including salaried positions). 

We engage with our charity partners, NI Chest Heart and Stroke, Disability Sports NI and the Lagan Dragons, offering pro-bono consultancy time and access to our design team’s expertise to help with their communications programmes. Additionally, we are a corporate member of Arts & Business in Northern Ireland, providing assistance and support across the arts sector, with our work having a direct impact on the quality and output of local arts businesses, organisations and charities. 

Concerning equality of opportunity, our studio workforce has an equal gender split with a higher than average proportion of women in senior/managerial roles. Our studio policies and regulations are PWC audited and approved, with provisions for employee mental health support, family childcare support and we also offer to fund up-skilling within our staff. We are currently funding the further education of 20% of our employees. Concerning representation, our staff includes Finnish, South African, Polish, Irish and English staff. 

We are proud to be a company that is driven by our values and we are committed to a process of continual improvement so that we can contribute to a better workplace, industry and environment for us all.

About Whitenoise

Four teams. One studio. 

At Whitenoise, we offer brand identity development and graphic design across all traditional and digital media, advertising for tv, press, radio, OOH, online and ambient. 

Our animation offering includes 2D/3D animation and motion graphics, FX, CGI and 3D visualisation. Our film team works with the latest technology for business and broadcast, we have 4k film capture capability, Steadicam, aerial videography and sound design. The digital team offer social media services including content creation, copywriting, social media management and digital advertising.

For a full list of services, visit our website: 

Further reading

We've been nominated... 03-06-2021

We've been nominated...

We are delighted to announce that our very own Mark Case, Whitenoise director in chief and supporter of the arts has been nominated for a 2021 Arts and Business NI award.

Read the article
How To Stay Ahead Of The Creative Curve 19-04-2021

How To Stay Ahead Of The Creative Curve

Our Digital Marketing Specialist Kathryn will get your creative juices flowing as she highlights how certain brands have cleverly adapted to the pandemic and tips on how to develop a marketing strategy that stays ahead of the curve. Read on for more.

Read the article
Happy National Pet Day 09-04-2021

Happy National Pet Day

At Whitenoise we celebrate our pets everyday, but 11th April marks an extra - special day where they get extra cuddles and *anything* they want (within reason). Take a look at all of the animals that provide us with endless doses of serotonin.

Read the article