Purpose - The purpose of this empirical case study is to apply several existing frameworks to consider the notion of integrating corporate social responsibility (CSR) with a brand leadership strategy. The investigation focuses on two main questions: What are the core components for the development of a CSR brand? What capabilities are necessary to implement a CSR-related brand strategy? Design/methodology/approach - Five firms provide input for a multiple case-based approach. Findings - Intuitive and intended approaches for CSR brand leadership emerge from the multiple case study results. Different capabilities are required at each stage of the development and implementation process for CSR brand leadership. Research limitations/implications - This research extends three prior studies - Aaker and Joachimsthaler's brand leadership framework, Maori et al.'s proposed integrative framework for designing and implementing CSR, and Beverland et al.'s, capabilities view on the development of global brand leadership - and fills a theoretical gap. Practical implications - Managers can use the proposed integrated and implementable framework to determine the impact of dynamic factors, such as ownership, culture, executive leadership, and the specific context of product and corporate branding, on the development and implementation of their CSR brand. Originality/value - No studies examine how to leverage CSR in brand-building activities. Specifically, no empirically grounded research examines the required path to create and manage CSR brands and associated benefits, nor is the number of capabilities required to develop a credible CSR brand clear. Comprehensive models of the processes for developing and implementing CSR brands and the capabilities that underlie them are needed. The proposed model emphasizes the contextualized need to rely on different capabilities at different stages of this development process to generate constructive and sustainable outcomes.