Once, twice, but three times is a pattern

When I started out with my spidey sense tingling over Dell/Alienware, Bodyshop/L’Oreal, I told myself that it was just coincidence, but coming across almost the same verbiage in reports of the Tom’s of Maine sale to Colgate Palmolive leaves me feeling that this is a pattern. Naturally I will keep a look out for more, and for reference, here are the essential similarities amongst all three acquisitions,

  • Each will remain an independent unit with it’s own brand and product strategy intact
  • Each will keep it’s name, unsullied by it’s purchaser’s name
  • Each is small and ‘different’, breaking corporate rules to get where they have
  • Each has been incomprehensible to many watchers, more outspoken in
    the case of The Body Shop, since it’s differentiator is ‘ethics’ and
    ‘social responsiblity’ rather than just ‘hip branding’ and ‘industrial
    design’ – ditto for Tom’s of Maine.

Makes me ask though, what role does design play in connection with social responsibility in the corporate context? From my own questioning post dated around the same time that these sales were going through,

It’s very early yet, and I don’t see the whole, but three things emerge –

  1. Sustainability, the environment, our future
  2. Empathy, the economy, our world
  3. Human centeredness, to design and to create, to give form and to shape
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