Cause Branding vs. Cause Marketing

Cause Branding vs. Cause Marketing

Cause branding might be considered synonymous with the cause marketing, but there are differences that will be identified below.

Whether cause marketing or cause branding, both have grown to be a key elements in the marketing mix for companies and brands of all types and sizes. Why? Research shows 75% of consumers believe companies should support charities and nonprofits with financial donations, while 61% say they will buy a new brand if it supports a cause they care about.

Today, we’ll share the definitions of Cause Branding and Cause Marketing, along with 4 Types of Cause Marketing, 8 Tips for Effective Cause Marketing, several examples of both Cause Brands and Cause Marketing. Finally, some relevant cause marketing resources are provided.

What is Cause Branding?

Cause Branding allows companies the opportunity to succeed financially while simultaneously doing something good for the community. Cause branding attempts to create a permanent association between the company or brand and an issue or charity. Or the brand and the cause are one in the same (the brand is the cause).

An example of a Cause Brand where the product is the cause is TOMS shoes, where you Buy One, Give One. As you have probably heard, TOMS donate a pair of shoes for every pari purchased. Feeling warm and fuzzy yet?

An example where the brand is the cause, is the Susan G. Komen for a Cure (Breast Cancer Foundation).

Cause Brand Examples

  1. TOMS – Buy One, Give One shoes
  2. Susan G. Komen for a Cure – Breast Cancer Foundation
  3. Bombas – You purchase a t-shirt or socks, they donate a t-shirt or socks
  4. Ivory Ella – This company donates 10% of your purchase to savetheelephants.org

As you will see, Cause Branding is more specialized, and not as common as Cause Marketing, which can employ a number of alternative types identified below.


What is Cause Marketing?

Cause marketing are initiatives and programs implemented by brands or for-profit business that seek to better society in accordance with corporate social responsibility. In contrast to cause branding, cause marketing is typically not a permanent association, or the brand itself. In fact, cause marketing can be multiple initiatives by and company to brand.

4 Types of Cause Marketing

There are 4 Types of Cause Marketing including Transactional Campaigns, Events, Code/Coupon Redemption, and Donations or Philanthropy.

Transactional Campaigns

This type is when a portion of the consumer’s purchase goes towards a selected charity. This is common with all types of retailers, restaurants, and consumer products.


This is probably the most recognizable of cause branding campaigns. Companies partner with a nonprofit to raise money or supplies for fundraising galas, benefit concerts, athletic events, clothing drives, etc.

Code/Coupon Redemption

This type of cause branding requires consumers to either clip coupons from sponsoring products, or go online to enter in verification codes to trigger the donation.

Donations or Philanthropy

When a company or brand donates to a cause or charity, sponsors a nonprofit or community initiative, or establishes a foundation for charitable giving, the brand receives positive publicity, builds awareness, and realizes tax deductions.

Examples of Cause Marketing

  1. Starbucks – By purchasing a coffee from Starbucks, you are supporting many nonprofit organization, social development grants, and opportunity for youth.
  2. Bike MS – The largest fundraising bike series in the world. Each year, nearly 75,000 cyclists and more than 6,000 teams ride together to change the world for people with MS. While the event is Cause Marketing, its owner, The National Multiple Sclerosis Society os a Cause Brand
  3. Annie’s – Gives kids a hand-on experience by teaching them a healthy lifestyle and partners with Feeding America.
  4. Newman’s Own – food company founded by the late actor Paul Newman, donates 100% of profits to charity
  5. Justin’s – This company does everything they can to lessen their environmental impact by using recyclable containers and quality local ingredients.
  6. The Walt Disney Company – Gives back by giving cash giving, product contributions, and public service announcements.
  7. The Coca-Cola Company – Gives back to the empowerment for women, water conservation, access to clear water, youth development, education, and civic initiatives.

No question, brands of all types and sizes are employing Cause Branding or Cause Marketing to establish or reinforce a desired corporate image, and resonate with the social responsibility movement. But like other marketing, there is effective and ineffective ways to go about Cause Branding and Cause Marketing. Following are some tips to consider to ensure effectiveness.

8 Tips for Effective Cause Branding and Marketing

  1. Select a focus area that aligns with your mission, goals, and organization
  2. Integrate the cause into your company culture
  3. Give more than just money
  4. Be transparent, demonstrate impact
  5. Leverage publicity including public service announcements (PSAs)
  6. Harness the power of Social Media
  7. Go local
  8. Innovate

A Bright Future for Causes

Cause branding or marketing benefits include increased sales and customer engagement, as well as brand differentiation in what are often over-crowded markets.

No question, cause branding and marketing is a growth market of great potential, with brands of all types and sizes embracing it. While the above examples are bigger brands, small companies can participate by supporting a cause or charity, and even listing causes on the website to reinforce social responsibility.

Now that you have some insights into cause branding and marketing, it’s important to note that promoting a cause is not an option for every company. Authenticity is the key here and without it, a cause branding or marketing campaign is ineffective.

Additional Cause Branding Resources:

Is A Social Cause A Necessity For A Brand (Forbes)

Millennials prefer brands with purpose (Medium) 

Supporting a Cause is No Longer a Choice for Brands (AdWeek)

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