Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Purpose-Driven Brand

The days of merely “making the grade” and passing the SAT are gone. Colleges are now looking for the excellent high school resume in their quest for the ideal student. In addition to the greater-than-3.2-GPA and minimum-ACT-score-of-21, nowadays extra curricular activities, a good pedigree, and volunteerism is EXPECTED and REWARDED.

Colleges are looking for students who are socially conscience through volunteerism, and this can be done through a number of venues such the Humane Society, Habitat for Humanity, the local children’s hospital, environmental activism, or some political affiliation. It’s not as much about WHERE you give your time as it is about THAT you give your time. Social responsibility presents a character trait that is appealing to those who would hold a student’s future in their hands.

Social responsibility is a burgeoning requirement that is certainly a noble trend, and like most trends, its reach extends into businesses.

Any business worth its weight will embrace a sense of responsibility to the community beyond its payroll. Organized employee volunteer days to feed the hungry or visit the elderly has become a value-added character of a company’s brand. Thus, the better brand is one with purpose. Not just a financially responsible brand, but  a socially responsible one as well. Some marketers call it “philanthropic capitalism.”

According to Forbes contributing writer, Simon Mainwaring, in his article “Marketing 3.0 Will Be Won By Purpose-Driven, Social Brands”, “The future of profit is purpose.”:
  • 87% of global consumers believe that business needs to place at least equal weight on society’s interests as on business’ interest
  • 6% believe the singular purpose of business is to make money for shareholders
  • 76% think it’s ok for brands to support good causes and make money at the same time.
  • 91% of global consumers would switch brands if a different brand of similar price and quality supported a good cause.
  • 53% would not invest in a company that does not actively support a good cause.
  • 68% Do not think businesses do enough to instill a sense of meaningful purpose in their work culture.
  • The meaningful brands index outperforms the stock market by 120%. 

A case in point: U.S. shoe manufacturer Toms created a brand around its “One for One” campaign. What started as a campaign for every pair of shoes sold, a pair was given away to a third-world-child in need, is now an extended campaign that also provides those children with healthcare. Their website claims, “We’re in business to help change lives. It’s a big job, and we don’t do it alone. With our customers and Giving Partners, we’re transforming everyday purchases into a force for good around the world. One for one.” The results? Toms has proven to be recession-proof, has attracted numerous famous business partners, buyers feel they’re giving back, and employee morale is very high. This embraces the idea of a purpose-driven brand.

Social responsibility has become the business of giving. Community efforts give purpose and meaning to a brand and are now important factors in creating a great brand.


Contributing researchers:
2012 Edelman GoodPurpose® Study
Havas Media “Meaningful Brands” Global Report 2013
2013 Deloitte Core Beliefs & Culture survey
2013 Cone Communications/Echo Global CSR Study

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