Purpose beyond profit


It’s 2022 and about time forward-thinking businesses value purpose just as much as profit. 

Having an authentic brand purpose anchored in sustainable living is an important vehicle for all brand communication. Today’s consumers are more ethically and socially conscious than ever before. 

A recent global survey of nearly 30,000 consumers by Accenture found that 62% of customers want companies to take a stand on current and broadly relevant issues like sustainability, transparency or fair employment practices. The closer a company’s purpose aligns to their own beliefs, the better, but what if the two don’t match up?

Brands have jumped on these social shifts and tried to mirror changes in consumer attitude and behaviour, however, consumers are growing weary. Shoppers increasingly faced with purpose-related campaigns have started to question whether brands are really being genuine with their sentiments or not: Do they really want to help change the world?

The ‘purpose fatigue’ era

Whilst we see the topic of “purpose” being discussed widely, it is not always resonating with consumers. We are now in the era of ‘purpose fatigue’ – and a lot of purpose-driven advertising is failing to cut through the noise. This is often because brands are talking about the environment but then failing to link anything to the issues that really matter to consumers. 

A brand might say: “We have pledged to be Carbon Neutral by 2035” but what does that actually mean? Where is the plan or the evidence? For a purpose to be successful, it needs to be at the heart of your brand and educate consumers with the task at hand.

What makes an authentic brand purpose?

A true brand purpose shouldn’t be another messaging mechanic that can be slipped over the existing brand architecture or campaign – it’s an action-oriented strategy that can only be achieved and have true credibility when it creates real change that people value and trust.

It’s through action and impact that brand purpose moves from an idea and strategy to something that lives in the real world and can create a measurable and meaningful effect in people’s lives. Consumers need to witness the end result, not just the sentiment.

4 ways to find your purpose

Here are four key principles to help you achieve real purpose-led activity that can bring success for your brand:

1. Be authentic

  • Don’t: Piggyback on what’s trendy right now or become opportunistic. If you veer too far off your course, you will risk disconnecting your brand and your purpose.
  • Do: Craft a credible purpose connected to your brand’s history, products and reputation. Take a trusted sustainability framework, like  the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and use it to define your brand’s current sustainability position, as well as its future ambition. Articulate this purpose in a story to your audience that they can resonate with in a meaningful way.

2. Be brave

  • Don’t: Hide or back down when there are obstacles or things get tough. You may seem insincere if you buckle under pressure.
  • Do: Confidently stand by your purpose and be prepared to face and open difficult conversations. Take the lead to enact change and carve out an authentic purpose for your brand to bravely become the voice of the people you serve.

3. Be relevant

  • Don’t: Default to a blanket strategy when activating your brand’s purpose. If you go in blindly or make assumptions about the people you want to reach, you risk losing sight of your consumers’ sentiments.
  • Do: Investigate the needs and motivations of your market and consumers to shape your strategy and help to surface beliefs or conventions that need to be disrupted to improve society. What is relevant evolves, so brands also must adapt how they articulate their purpose.

4. Be responsible

  • Don’t: Stop with communications and a press release. Promise what you are not intending to deliver.
  • Do: Walk the walk! Put your purpose at the heart of everything the brand does. Engage with your colleagues to drive purpose responsibly as a unified team. Set clear commitments and track their progress to embed new behaviours and live by what you stand for.

Do you need help establishing or activating your brand purpose? We love helping brands find their purpose and use it for the greater good. Our team has lots of experience in this area, so please drop us a message to find out more.