Brand Spirit: How Cause Related Marketing Builds Brands by Hamish Pringle and Marjorie Thompson, published by John Wiley & Sons (ISBN 0471499447)

Companies are finding that cause related marketing has become a way out of increasingly stale marketing initiatives. It has also become something the agencies are grabbing onto as a differentiator – none more so than Saatchi & Saatchi which in 1997 launched the first specialist cause related marketing (CRM) unit inside an ad agency, Saatchi & Saatchi Cause Connection.

In some ways this is the story of that unit, written by its director, who came from a charity background to convince the agency that there was money to be made by clients and from clients by linking a brand to a charity or cause.

Full of relevant case studies, Brand Spirit is highly readable and by having a co-author from a pure agency background, the studies are grounded in marketing terms, theory and practice.

Pringle and Thompson assert that CRM's time has come. This paperback edition appears at a time when ethical business and "spiritual branding" could be even more relevant as companies lose the respect and allegiance of customers that were offered multiple choices online and off, as well as a growing cynicism about the operations of global corporations and partner governments.

Of course law firms have a long history of pro bono initiatives. However, rarely have these been systematised or integrated into marketing initiatives. Firms have a head start on many other commercial businesses in that their work has the potential for a seamless fit with worthy causes or charities.

What Brand Spirit shows is that if this is developed, promoted and properly understood in marketing terms, there is a massive potential for brand building.