It isn’t always easy to do the right thing

by Holland-Mark | February 21, 2014

It’s hard to admit when you’re wrong in a disagreement or to tell a restaurant that unfortunately they’ve under-charged you for your bill. But at the end of the day, you can feel pretty good about yourself. And it’s likely that the people in your life will respect you too.

Brands today are expected to be more human and more transparent than they’ve ever been. And like the person who lies to your face, a brand that doesn’t live up to its promise will struggle to earn your respect.  Successful brands are no longer just telling you their stories; they’re living them. And their stories are less about what they do and how they do it—the ones who stand out most know why they do it. Their “why” serves as their mission, which clearly informs their brand values and their decisions.

CVS Caremark’s decision to stop selling tobacco products in their pharmacies nationwide is a perfect example. They publicly announced that selling tobacco products is inconsistent with their mission, which they define as helping people on their path to better health. The move is expected to cost them $2 billion in sales and they’re certainly facing pressure from tobacco companies who are concerned about setting a precedent. This decision is an important step in their transition from a drugstore to a healthcare company. It’s a risk, but they’re acting on what they believe is right for their customers and their brand.

Their decision may also be less risky than it seems. Just over two years ago, Patagonia released an ad that implored customers not to buy their products and to reduce their consumption. It was a bold move, but it resulted in tremendous growth because their customers chose to support a brand that shared their values.

We’re pretty confident that this is a smart move for CVS. And at the end of the day, they have our respect—and we hope that more brands will follow their lead. It isn’t always easy to do the right thing, but it’s often more than worth it.