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Conscious Brands

Conscious Compassionate Brands Strengthen Communities

Conscious + compassionate brands strengthen communities

Conscious Brands / 9.7.21 / By Josh Smith

People want to see the brands they trust take purposeful action to advance society. A conscious brand is one with a strong mission and a higher purpose. One who knows who they are, what they stand for and why they exist.

At DS+CO, we believe progress is made by questioning old norms and inviting new perspectives. The first step most companies take in provoking progress is to recognize their inherent mission and values, and then seek out ways to live them out loud.

Here are three brands we’ve worked with over the past year that inspire us with their relentless commitment to bettering the communities where they live and work.

Greater ROC: Greater is the only way to be.

“The larger a place is, the more room there is for different perspectives on what makes that place unique. Such is the challenge with creating Greater ROC to be a place brand for the nine-county Greater Rochester, NY, region. It’s not just large; it’s incredibly diverse. Diverse in its people, perspectives and even priorities. This vast landscape creates places within a place, each with its own vibe, distinct and held with a sense of ownership that can only be called pride.

Greater ROC is a means to generate unity of place by embracing that diversity as the region’s greatest asset.

It started with research—over 100 in-depth interviews and countless survey responses—to give us a POV on those diverse audiences and their perspectives. We weren’t looking for a thing everyone could agree on, but for themes that could bridge the gap between them. Greater ROC needed to be about energy and empathy. This place brand is going to celebrate everyone’s contribution with passion to fuel us all forward.

We didn’t build a brand to create one single place. We built a brand that creates a shared appreciation for the many places that collectively make this region greater. And this video is just a first step in that journey.” —Paul G., Public Relations & Content Supervisor

ESL: This is more than prosperity. This is promise.

"ESL came to us in 2019 with a goal to infuse their purpose into their brand communications. As long-time partners, we were honored to collaborate with ESL’s marketing team on extensive brand and market research, developing a strategic brand platform, and creating three campaign concepts that could effectively express the ethos of the ESL brand.

After memorable weeks of pre-production and production during a pandemic, Belong to Something Bigger emerged to tell the story of ESL Federal Credit Union’s purpose through the unique and shared experiences of its members.

It was a truly rewarding experience to capture and demonstrate ESL’s impact on the lives of some of its members and our broader community, showing ESL’s purpose through authentic storytelling. Working alongside the ESL team and sharing the stories of these amazing people within our community is a true point of pride.” —Merritt L., Account Director

United Way: Coming together is love and light.

“When it comes to helping our fellow citizens, our region is like no other—whatever the need, however great the challenge. And the global challenges of 2020 had taken a great toll so many. People needed necessities. Kids learned in whole new ways as parents struggled to support them while making ends meet. And earning a living-wage job became even more difficult. As our region emerged to rebuild amidst unprecedented hardship, United Way of Greater Rochester and the Finger Lakes rose to the call to rebuild a stronger community. The organization that’s proven for over a century how collectively we have the power to improve lives, partnered with us to inspire pride and unity throughout our region.

While we’ve collaborated with United Way on its campaigns for more than a decade, this year’s effort was unique. Partly because United Way’s focus on the building blocks of Health, Education and Economic Mobility would continue play a vital part in the coordinated community response to build an equitable society and thriving community. And partly because we knew that our approach to this work would need to evoke a sense of being in-it-together to move hearts, encourage giving and make the most meaningful impact.

We looked to the beauty in the chaos for inspiration. Because whatever life throws at us individually or collectively, art has a way of reaching people in a way no other form can. It grabs our attention, speaks to our soul, and leaves us feeling better for having experienced it. A departure from conventional direct messaging, we took poetic license with language and a powerful delivery to captivate attention. We wanted the audience to hang on every word—interpreting each with their own personal meaning—enough to provoke immediate action by donating at their workplace and learning how to get more involved.

If you haven’t given to the United Way of Greater Rochester and the Finger Lakes this year, it’s not too late. There’s always room to stand united.” -Robin L. Creative Director

As DS+CO moves through our next phase of evolution as a company, we’re dialed into the foundation of philanthropy that has threaded its way through our life as a business. We’ll continue to act as change agents and champions for creating more connected, conscious and compassionate brands. Celebrating businesses that go out into the world, unabashedly, as a force for good—a force for better.

Check out our Charitable Giving Program.


Josh Smith

Josh Smith is DS+CO’s content and SEO manager, building digital information strategies to reach the right people the right way.