From environmental, societal, and charitable efforts – there are many ways for brands to build meaning into their business. And the data tells us people are looking for conscientious companies to shop with, and work for.
Let’s talk about what it means for a brand to lead with purpose – ranging from pharmaceuticals, to clothing and energy.
Join our Zync brand experts as we discuss these questions – and more – in this week’s episode of #EverythingIsBrand. For more on brand, connect with us through zync.ca
Recorded on June 29, 2022.
Brad Breininger: 0:00
Hi everyone, and welcome to this week’s everything is brand. In the past, we’ve talked about purpose and organizations that are really looking at being good for their communities good for their employees, but the purpose can go even deeper. So today we want to talk about brand purpose, branding purpose and the purpose of brands. So purpose is a wide range of things, it talks about how an organization or a brand is in their community, how their values align with their customers, or consumers, how they kind of come to the marketplace, but more and more purpose is having meaning beyond just being a good corporate citizen. It’s really about how are you bettering society? How are you adding two things that are going to help drive humanity forward. And there are organizations that really are creating their whole organization around this idea of being purpose driven or purpose led? And as a brand, you need to ask yourself, is this something that is right for us? Is this something that we need to consider? Gabi, you were recently at collision, and I know that there was a lot on purpose led branding, maybe you can talk about some of the things that you heard.
Gabi Gomes: 1:27
So yeah, I was at collision. And there was a talk called “How purposeful companies are leading the way” by Ty and Rosemary of CO collective. And it was quite interesting. I’ll throw out a few stats that I heard, it started with the decline of trust, we’re seeing a decline of trust about 34% in government 15%, in media outlets, and about 24%, in religion. And then it went into some other stats on public sentiment. So 90% of Gen Z, think that companies have an obligation to solve environmental and societal problems. 81% believe CEOs should be visible, visibly active on social and environmentally, environmental issues. And 60% would choose where to work based on the CEOs willingness to take a stand on the issues that they care about. So I think that the numbers speak for themselves in terms of the fact that people are looking for more purpose led companies. On the financial side of things, then these numbers were quite shocking to me, at least, the fact that this conscious capitalism purpose led businesses are becoming big businesses, to the tune of 51 billion in 2020, 120 billion in 2021. And 50 trillion is projected over the next 20 years. So we’re seeing people are spending their money, where it makes sense on purpose led businesses. Now, I think the other thing that they had a few examples of companies that are doing it, and I think the thing that surprised me the most were that these companies are going – they’re reimagining the tried and true brands that have been in the market for years and years. Whether it is you know, challenging Nike with a new running shoe, the company that they featured was Allbirds, where they look at sustainable materials for their running shoe. That’s not petroleum, etc, better for the environment, all of that sort of stuff. And they’re getting traction, and they’re getting traction against the big, the big brands. Another one that was interesting to me was Genexa. Genexa went up against basically Tylenol, on taking away the dyes and whatever from their medicine, etc. So no longer is this kind of, in my mind, a small startup company that’s Mom and Pop smaller, we’re seeing larger companies tackle the big stayed brands, and they are leading with purpose.
Brad Breininger: 4:03
And I think one of the things that that really points out those stats are really intriguing and really compelling. And one of the things that it points out is that this is not some kind of fly by night trend that organizations need to kind of almost have a Purpose Committee and figure out how they’re going to come out in social media with their purpose. It’s really about looking at the DNA of your brand and of your organization. And understanding how that DNA needs to change in order to have a more purpose driven or more purpose led commitment out in the marketplace, because I would imagine that authenticity in all of this is going to be such an important analytic and really something that people are going to be looking towards to determine which of these organizations is truly brimming with purpose.
Sasha Codrington: 4:53
I would add to that as well in terms of the authenticity, authenticity, I had taken some notes on that that to me, that meaning and purpose It’s not just money anymore. I think in the past, we kind of looked at companies that had, let’s say, 1% for the planet, all of those different programs where they give a percentage of their profits to an organization that they care about. And absolutely, that’s great. But to me, that’s something so small, that doesn’t signify a kind of purpose, that’s not a greater meaning, a DNA for a brand. That’s a small thing that they can do. But to me, it’s about actually incorporating it in every way you’re doing your business, not just handing money over to someone at the end of the day.
Gabi Gomes: 5:31
It’s what Uber did to the taxi industry. I mean, not not that Uber is a purpose led to business by any means. It solved a problem. And I think now we’re seeing the evolution of that, but in a more purposeful way, completely getting reinvented.
Brad Breininger: 5:47
Yeah, and it’s not purpose as a I don’t know, as a hot topic, its purpose as a part of who you actually are. And a part of where you want to be going forward in the future, I find that sometimes some of these things can get really trendy, and it’s like, Oh, you gotta jump on the bandwagon and make sure that if you want to sell more product, you have to make sure that you get your purpose message out there. But I think that this feels very different than that this feels much more like organizations are going to be held to task that they are going to be asked the hard questions, and that people are going to kind of vote with their money, as we always say, around whether or not they’re accomplishing the goals that
Marko Zonta: 6:28
I think it’s also it comes down to organizations
Brad Breininger: 6:28
Yeah, one of the things that, you know, a lot they’re setting out. actually building it right into their business plan. You know, like, Sasha, you mentioned, kind of in the past, it was like 1% of your income, or whatever it is your budget to whatever causes and that would, that would be enough. But I think that now, everything is changing to the point where organizations of organizations are up against, though, is that it’s going to really have to build this into their business plan, they have to figure out how to run their operations more efficiently. And take a while to turn the ship around. Like if you look at the even when it comes to, you know, creating products or developing services, anything like that, you know, it’s actually an opportunity for them to create products or services that actually are less costly to them in the long run. Yes, of course, it requires some investment upfront, but over a longer period of time, it’s less costly. And it’s really an opportunity for them to change their marketing, their positioning, based on opportunity, you know, just kind of a simple example. If they have if they have a product that requires packaging, reduce the amount of packaging that product requires and talk about it right. So now it becomes an opportunity to market your product, and you’re doing something good at the same time. Right. So So I think that it’s really a matter of kind of repositioning their own thinking that this is not necessarily just a cost, it’s also an opportunity for petroleum industry, the plastics industry, they’re not, I would imagine, they’re not eager for sustainability to take over things because it means that the rethinking or in some cases, even the demise of their industry, or, or a much less, much less of a stronghold in an industry that they’ve perhaps dominated for years and years. I mean, just taking the petroleum industry, for example, the amount of things that petroleum is in is like so huge, including plastics, the amount of plastic that is in packaging, and like being able to turn that around and have them rethink their businesses as well as the up and coming businesses that are trying to do differently. It really needs to be both of those things. It needs to be that the traditional businesses are rethinking their position. And the up and coming businesses are coming up with innovative ways to enable new technology, new ways of doing things, all those things. So it almost needs to be a push and a pull at the same time.
Gabi Gomes: 9:15
Each one of those companies and there was another example that they had, there was motivation at the core of that business. So what is your motivating driving factor? We go back to Simon Sinek and the why what’s the why behind it and profits goes across the board with everybody. Everybody wants to be in business to obviously make money. However, what is the motivation behind that company? In the Genexa example, it was basically two dads two dads that didn’t want to put chemicals into their kids, didn’t want to put unnecessary dyes, didn’t want to put unnecessary whatever into their kids systems and thought, hey, there’s got to be a more natural way of doing this without these particular pieces in it. And that’s what drove them to start. As business and to develop this product, the other example was Chief and Chief was basically I don’t want to say LinkedIn, but a network of women, a membership base to propel women at these senior executive levels. So now we’re talking about creating a membership based community of women to solve the issue of women not being at the top level decision maker trying to get that pendulum, you know, swinging slightly in the opposite direction, or at least a 5050 balance when it comes to executives and CEOs. That’s what that company is all about their motivation, is to bring more women to the top of the chain, right? And that’s what drove them. And that’s another purpose led business there. So I would ask, what’s the motivation of the brand? And is it just to create a product? Is it just to create business? Or what is the greater motivation that they are trying to achieve? What is their stand, we go back to that authenticity piece, and then that’s kind of spills out into everything else.
Brad Breininger: 11:05
Yeah. And it’s tied to society’s expectations as well. A really good example, I think of this is the diamond industry, for example. So for a very long time, most of the diamonds came from mining that was not good for the earth, or good for the people who were doing the mining and it was all controlled by you know, a single entity, and to the point where this phrase Blood Diamonds was created, and more and more like, if you look at a lot of folks who are looking for diamonds, now, the industry innovated and they came up with these lab grown diamonds that to the naked eye look exactly the same as a mined diamond and are created in pretty much the same way that the Earth creates diamonds. And, and for a lot of people, you know, because in the past, we’ve had diamond substitutes like cubic zirconia, and those kinds of things. But with these lab grown diamonds, the innovation matched the expectation of what society was looking for. And I think when those two things happen, when you can take innovation, and you can match it to society’s expectations, and what they’re willing to accept, that’s when you can really start to change the way things are going and build in this whole purpose driven thing. And I know, in the wedding industry, lab grown diamonds are actually sought out by a lot of folks who are saying, you know, what, I don’t want a diamond that’s been mined from the earth, I don’t want something that causes issues, I either want a diamond that’s already existed. And so I’m repurposing it, or I’m perfectly fine with a lab grown diamond, because, again, it represents my values. It represents what I want to be in the world. And I think that those are the opportunities that organizations need to look for now, that takes some time. And there’s that phrase that the pioneers, the people who are first in don’t always win, because they they set the standard or they change minds, or they change expectations. But I think that more and more organizations are pushing the envelope and saying, What can we do in a different way to be more purpose led to be more purpose driven?
Christian Rosenthal | ZYNC: 13:13
A quote that I read that really helped me, and I think it’s true, said that a true brand purpose doesn’t boost profit, it sacrifices it. And that’s something brands really need to understand because just by saying that they’re agreeing, but not doing anything in regards to the environment, doesn’t help doesn’t mean they have a purpose. Having a purpose means investing money and taking that idea that their why is just to make profit. So as long as the brand understands that it will require some sacrifice as they will be able to have that true brand purpose. Otherwise, it’s going to be meaningless, right?
Sasha Codrington: 13:57
I would say that as much as there’s often an upfront investment or some kind of cost. There’s also a lot of benefits like Gabi and I, we both attended collision and there’s lots of ways that it yields huge returns monetarily. But I’d also say that that quote, applies more directly to sustainability and those efforts because historically, if you’re manufacturing something, creating a product more sustainably is always going to cost more than kind of the cheapest option. But I think to me, purpose led brands are much more broad than that – sustainability is obviously a very important purpose in our world today. But to me, there’s lots of other things that companies are working towards, like Gabi gave the example of Chief that’s looking at equality. And I think there’s lots of other purposes that are very important that are smaller and more niche. An example that I found really interesting on social media lately is a dating app – we’ll call it, called Thursday. It’s based in the UK. And to them, their purpose is people are really lonely right now. And they’re not connecting with people, they’re not meeting people. And they created a new solution where instead of people just scrolling through these apps, endlessly, this platform, it only opens on Thursdays. And the idea is that there’s local events in your area, and it’s only going to be singles going to them. So every Thursday, in like cities across the world single show up at these particular bars, organized by this platform. And to me, that’s obviously not going to solve kind of climate change or anything. But it’s just a group of people that are trying to make sure that people have connections, meet people organically, get out of kind of this hole that COVID has created in in people’s social lives. So that’s an example that to me, I think there’s so many companies going out and doing things that it doesn’t necessarily have a huge financial cost to them. But they’re just genuinely leading with authenticity, they’re trying to make something happen, approaching something differently than other companies out there. And at collision, I heard another example of this Arcadia, it’s a clean energy brand in the US. And they’re looking at solar power all of these great solutions that are more environmentally friendly. But to them, they’re also reframing people’s relationship with energy. So they’re not just putting a solar panel on the roof and calling it a day, they’re going out of their way to send emails to their customers that educate them about what exactly is coming from their energy, what is the impact? What does this look like, because historically, they were saying you just get a bill every month. And that’s all you know about your energy is how much you pay for it. And so for him, he’s trying to reframe our idea of energy, our understanding of it, and even missions like that, where you’re actually educating consumers about the other options out there, I think, is really important.
Brad Breininger: 16:56
And Sasha, wasn’t he making it more accessible for people who had different energy requirements?
Sasha Codrington: 17:02
Yeah, he was, had lots of really interesting things to say about their approach. The example there was, let’s say you’re in a condo, you don’t have the opportunity to put a solar panel on your roof. And largely, it’s going to be someone who has access to quite a bit of cash to be able to purchase solar panels outright. So for him, you could go into Arcadia, you could pay a monthly fee, and you’re essentially renting solar panels that are out in some fields and off putting your energy use because you’re not able to get clean energy into your condo directly. You’re kind of sponsoring this solar energy elsewhere and off putting what you’re using in your home. So he’s making it more accessible. He’s really educating his consumers about his energy, and kind of reframing our idea of energy, and our utility bill as only something negative. He’s trying to showcase to people that there are positives here. Here’s what that looks like.
Brad Breininger: 17:54
It’s interesting, because these words, innovation, diversity, accessibility, sustainability, they start to become buzzwords. And they start to be included in corporate decks and speeches and all these things. But when you hear the examples of how people have interpreted them, it starts to become more real. I almost feel like when you use those words themselves, they become meaningless. But these examples really bring it home. And they really, they really show how easy it is to come up with smaller ideas or smaller kind of pivots that allow you to test it out and try different things and consider things from a different angle or a different way. And it doesn’t have to be about getting rid of blood diamonds or shutting down the petroleum industry, it can be these very smaller steps that allow organizations to figure out how they can be more purposeful in the world.
Gabi Gomes: 18:53
So I will add this to it on top of the purpose led business also has trickle effects into employees, consumers and companies. So I’ll throw out a few more stats. From an employee perspective, purpose led companies attract about three times more the highest performing employees, not just any employee, but the higher performing employees. They have about 40% higher levels of retention in their businesses, and they’re 30% higher in innovation. So from an employee perspective, it even makes business sense, especially right now, as we’re in the war of talent. These kinds of things make a difference in terms of consumers. They’re about four to six more times more likely to purchase and to champion that purpose driven company. Again, we’ve all heard that I own a matt and nat bag you know, vegan leather. I love it. And when I got it, I was one of those that was like you gotta get Matt and nat bag. And if we look at all the millennials, there’s a lot of Matt and nat bags hanging around there. But yes, they are. They’re all So 86% considered to be more trustworthy amongst consumers, and they have higher levels of loyalty. On the company side, on the financial front, they see, on average about three times faster growth than their competitors. And they have about 175% surge in valuation, over 12 months versus 70% of regular traditional companies. So on all those fronts, not only on the purpose side, but then we’re looking at the employees, the consumers, and overall, it just makes business sense.
Brad Breininger: 20:32
Yeah, I think the most important message here is that purpose in business can be aligned, they can be aligned fully, and not only can they be aligned, it’s actually an opportunity. I think that for a lot of organizations and a lot of brands, sometimes the idea of change, or the idea of you know, things moving forward feels like an expense. And organizations tend to look at these kinds of things as expenses. But more and more, it has to be something that is considered right from the very beginning. So whether you’re a startup, I think most startups today are thinking about purpose, I think they’re thinking about how do they better the current situation that we’re in or, or the situation going forward? I think for a lot of organizations that are very well established, it does require a level of change that might be, in some cases, disruptive to the organization. But again, with some of these examples, the ability to start smaller and build is right there in front of them. The opportunity to look at your industry in a different way, or come at it from a different perspective, or even using diversity to its full potential and hiring people that can bring new thinking and new ideas into your organization, and really look at it from a neutral perspective that perhaps you might not have looked at it before. I think all of these things are opportunities for brands to say, okay, how can we figure out where we fit in this way going forward? How do we fit into purpose driven? Decisions? How do we fit into purpose led initiatives? How can we start small and build and grow? Or how can we blow things up and change it and take the opportunity that that might provide? I think what it comes down to is looking at what the expectations are – I said earlier, that when the expectations of society and your ability to meet them in a way that they will accept when those two things come together, that’s when true innovation has the opportunity to take off. So looking for those opportunities is available to any brand regardless of size. And I think that most importantly – more than anything, asking the questions that are going to lead you down the right road, and then figuring out how it applies to you is the first step for any brand as they want to move into a more purposeful driven, future or purpose lead direction for the future of the brand. So that’s this edition of everything is brand new. Join us next time for a new topic and remember, everything is brand