A Brand Review is how B Lab reviews secondary brands that are managed by the same governance structure and people as a Certified B Corp.
Most companies have a "primary brand": the usual trading name that it sells its products or services under. This primary brand is, typically, the intended target and beneficiary of the B Corp certification process.
However, some companies manage or own additional "secondary" or "sister" brands - be they products, services, events etc - that are part of the same company governance structure but operate under a different brand name to the primary brand. A well-known example would be Innocent Drinks (Certified B Corp) and Juicy Water.
These secondary brands do not qualify for B Corp status simply because the primary brand has: their separate branding prohibits this.
But they may be eligible for certification under a "Brand Review", as opposed to going through the full certification process.
What is a Brand Review?
A brand review is an assessment of one brand that occurs on the basis of answers provided for another brand under the same management system.
Let's say you have a brand - Brand 1 - that is in the process of being certified or is already certified. And you have a sister brand - Brand 2 - that you would also like to refer to as a Certified B Corp.
Let's assume for Brand 2:
- It is under the same governance structure, run by the same people, adopts the same policies etc.
- The only key difference to Brand 1 is the product itself and the brand name.
- B Lab believes it is sufficiently closely governed to be eligible for a Brand Review.
Under these circumstances, rather than going through a whole certification process for Brand 2, you can apply for a Brand Review. In effect, the question B Lab wants to answer is "Were Brand 2 to be a separate business, would it qualify as a Certified B Corp?"
Chances are, on the basis of Brand 1's answers, it will likely be "yes" but there will be mitigating circumstances that would mean "no". For example, the Impact Business Model points earned by Brand 1 might not be transferrable to Brand 2 and if the transferrable operational score happens to be lower than 80 then Brand 2 wouldn't qualify.
Note that is good practice never to rely on IBMs as the thing that puts a company over the 80 point threshold. B Labs ideally wants to see 80 points met by the operational plus N/A score on your B Impact Assessment.
Why would you want a Brand Review?
You cannot refer to any secondary or sister brands as a Certified B Corp unless they have been through the standard process or a brand review.
It is more straightforward than doing the whole certification process again.
When does it happen and what does it cost?
Ideally, it happens at the point of verification for Brand 1. This way, you are killing two birds with one stone: the answers are fresh in front of everyone and B Lab are effectively doing two brands with the same time investment.
When you start the verification process, inform the Standards Analyst of your brand(s) and ask whether you need them to go through a Brand Review.
It is best to tell them upfront because, whilst they won't default to asking, they may well find your additional brands during their due diligence and it will save time for you and them if you've mentioned it at the start.
If you do it at the time of certifying, a Brand Review doesn't cost anything.
Down The Line
You don't have to do it at certification. You can also do it down the line.
If you do it down the line, you will have to pay a small fee to B Lab.
The fee is due because what they could have done simultaneously they now need to reinvest the time again going back through what are virtually the same questions.
What if it is a subsidiary?
If the brand in question is a proper subsidiary, with its own governance and management processes, it requires its own certification process separate to that of your Primary Brand.