The definition of Purpose is: the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists. It should also now say, a must for brands that want to build long-lasting relationships with today’s consumers.

66% of consumers will spend more for products that are both good for them and good for society, and 58% are willing to spend more for products that support a cause. The numbers are even higher when you look at Millennials and Gen Z.

Brands that were born from Purpose (we call them Purpose Led) can easily articulate the reason they exist and isn’t to create profit for shareholders. Toms is a great example of one of the first brands was built on purpose. Now bigger brands are realizing that they need to clearly define a purpose that goes beyond profit.

There’s a gap to bridge

Because even though companies know purpose is important, they also acknowledge that they have a long way to go.

EY Beacon Institute and a Harvard Business Review study of 474 executives found that an overwhelming number of business leaders believe that purpose is a transformative lever. 85% strongly agree that they are more likely to recommend a company with a strong purpose, and 84% agree that business transformation efforts will have greater success. But only 46% think that their organization has a strong sense of purpose and only 37% believe that their business model and operations are a well-aligned purpose. This means there are huge opportunities, but also huge challenges along the way.

Brands need to be truly connected to their purpose

Brands that are aligning their purpose with their values are starting to see the rewards. EPIC makes 100% grass-fed meat, fruit and nut bars. They are committed to global-large scale grassland restoration efforts, which they educate their consumers about via social media, blog, their EPIC Impact Journal and a podcast named “Meatcast.”  They place their purpose-driven messaging first, before product, and their cause is not only authentic but its working. They’ve  expanded to broths, snack mixes, and other categories and were recently bought by General Mills, giving EPIC the ability to push their ideals to a much larger audience and have a much bigger global impact.

Nestle is the world’s largest food and beverage company and they were ahead of most of the legacy brands when it came to figuring out that Purpose was important in 2006. They backed into their purpose which they call Good Food, Good Life. And they have really come to live it by constantly enhancing the quality of food and contributing to healthier lives. If you visit the Nestle site, the main message isn’t a selling message or a message about how much money they’re making. It’s about all the important programs they are involved with.  I believe that one of the reasons they’ve been so successful is that their purpose feels true and relevant to what they actually do and make.

H&M started a gender equality purpose led campaign called “She’s a lady”. Its goal is to redefine traditional standards or ladylike acts. The ads feature a cast of different sizes, shapes, ethnicities and cultural backgrounds who are challenging the construct of femininity. H&M is aligning their purpose with a social movement, becoming an inspirational brand to take a stand on gender equality. And Gen Z is feeling it. The ad has more than 57 million hits on Youtube.

Brands that are obviously making it up and why it hurts

While having a purpose is important, having a purpose that feels inauthentic can really hurt a brand. This year Ram ran a Superbowl ad that confusingly used Martin Luther King’s sermon from exactly fifty years ago. The commercial ends with Ram’s tagline- built to serve. The response was overwhelmingly negative. Questions like  “are MLK’s words really being used to sell cars?”- were all over social media and the brand definitely suffered. All the more reason to work hard as a brand to find a purpose that is truly authentic and articulate it well. And that’s no small task. But one that I can definitely help with. Let’s talk.

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