A Purpose Brand is one that eats, sleeps and breathes their raison d’etre; absorbing the social, cultural, political or ecological influences of an organisation and reflecting them outwardly. They encompass values and ethos on a deeper level, using this central tenet of belief as the driving factor for where they go first and where they go next.
Patagonia can arguably be called one of the super-star names in this genre, reflecting consumer concerns over ecological, sustainability and ethical issues, to become a leader in the field of sustainable design.
What makes Purpose Driven brands so hot right now?
Long shadowed by aristocratic legacy brands, purpose driven brands have rocketed to relevance as a result of cultural and societal shifts that have created a new type of consumer that is here to stay. The evidence is that 53% of UK consumers now favour brands who have strong values and stand for something that is more relevant and identifiable. They understand that purpose fuels the essence and heart of these brands. builds their company cultures and defines their directions so they are quick to ditch brands who don’t seem to align with their contemporary views of society.
What is the evidence for this customer shift?
The facts speak for themselves. Research tells us that 64% of Gen Z’s and Millennials want their favoured brands to stand for a social, cultural or environmental cause and 55% believe that by protesting against brands and issues, they can achieve their goals. This socially aware mindset means that brands need to know their audiences deeper and define what is really important to them in order to make meaningful bonds and enhance their customer experiences.
What does brand purpose mean for the brands we know today?
Brands only exist because they offer or embody something that makes a connection with their followers. This doesn’t have to always be something deep and meaningful but if the recent news from Unilever is anything to go by then this trend is here to stay.
When the newly-appointed chief executive Alan Jope outlined his vision for the future of their marketing department, and the products it sells, he made it clear that brand purpose will be key to the decisions he takes – and he’s not afraid to cull brands we think of as household names if they don’t align with his vision. As a result, Unilever are now measuring consumer perceptions around how their brands are achieving their purpose-driven goals, and Jope says those not living up to the company’s high standards set are incredibly likely to be sold off, including the likes of household favourite, Marmite.
“We will dispose of brands that we feel are not able to stand for something more important than just making your hair shiny, your skin soft, your clothes whiter or your food tastier,” he told journalists during Cannes Lions.
“Brands that talk purposeful messages, but don’t do anything in the real world about it are at risk of further endangering the reputation and trust of marketing and advertising. And, by contrast, those that do take a stand on an issue and do take action become not just a beacon, not just typically better performing as a brand, but have the opportunity to restore hope in trust in advertising and trust in marketing,” Jope says…. and only time will tell if this was the right decision for both his business and the planet.
So how do we become a purpose driven brand?
The key to being a Purpose Brand is don’t rest on your laurels, reach deeper into the mindsets of your customers and become bolder and more active. In a community and market of continuous shifts and mindsets, you cannot afford to stand still or watch from the side lines whilst your competitors deepen their bonds. 55% of consumers respect brands who are transparent and authentic, showing that consumers want to believe in brands who are definitive and play an active role in their lives.
Customers need to be able to view themselves in the brand, and align it with their own personal ideologies. A brilliant example of this is Nike, who send vibrations through society with every controversial campaign. They are innovative, they have their finger on the pulse, and they refuse to stand down, infusing everything they do with their disruptive and challenging brand purpose. That’s why they have a strong brand loyalty ratio.
So don’t wait for your brand to become a forgotten relic, dive into the new world, be like Nike and Just Do It.