The rise of brands with purpose

By Evi Sianna | 06 Feb 2020

Companies that have values beyond just profits are to be admired. There are a lot of good examples where communicating brand purpose can really work – namely, when it’s real and comes from a genuine place. The problem lies in the fact that this can sometimes be manipulated purely for marketing reasons, and not driven by a connection to the brand’s culture, positioning and authentic purpose.

Despite all the investment that goes into driving brand purpose tactics every year (about £1bn), the public is yet not convinced that these tactics are genuine. The top three areas in advertising that British people would like to see more of a purpose and contribution are mental health, the environment and domestic violence/abuse. Other areas that are included in this list are homelessness/poverty, promotion of healthy lifestyle and animal welfare, racial diversity, as well as gender/sexuality.

A study undertaken by the Harvard Business Review has shown that when brands get the purpose right, it can drive growth and increase profits. The study also notes how partnerships are helping brands encompass positive messages and communicate in new ways. One example of this is Absolut partnering with Slovak musicians and Spotify to promote diversity in Slovakia. Another is Manpower in Norway partnering with influencers to help millennials transfer their gaming skills into the workplace. And, recently, Barbie and Gillette together tried to address issues around gender and sexuality stereotypes.

These are all examples of brands that have adopted purpose driven strategies - and succeeded. But, when these efforts are driven by purely marketing functions without enough real purpose, the risk of looking ingenuine is significant. Brand purpose should exist in all levels within the culture of a brand and needs to be apparent in order for the public to believe in it.

What brands have you seen that are doing this really well or, on the flip side, quite badly? Do you think this is a good thing for brands to be doing? We’d love to hear from you!