According to Edelman,
• There is a widening gap between what people expect and what many
brands and organizations deliver.
• While 92% of consumers want to do business with companies that share
their values, only 14% have faith in business or believe that brands
engage them well.
• Additionally, 40% of consumers don’t think brands are doing enough to
demonstrate their beliefs in helping the world.
According to The Reputation Institute,
• While 73% percent of consumers are willing to recommend companies
that stand for something meaningful, only 5% believe that companies
actually deliver on their promises.
• The average Fortune 500 company spends anywhere from $50 to $100
million annually on activities ranging from sustainability to CSR to cause
• One could argue that, as an industry, we could do a lot better. The
sizeable gap between people’s expectations and experiences isn’t just a
missed business opportunity.
• It’s a chance to radically transform the way purpose comes to market.
What is a BRAND PURPOSE?
“The own able, actionable impact your brand will make on the lives of your target
consumers, rooted in a fundamental insight. It resides at the intersection of what
your brand offers the world and your consumer’s deepest cares and desires.”
Brands with a Purpose
• A plethora of brands that claim to stand
for a higher purpose
Purpose driven brands
• They not only translate their values into substantive actions—from supply
chain overhauls to the development of environmentally sound products—
they effectively bridge the divide between internal corporate activities and
everyday consumer experiences.
• Their purpose is made both literal and visceral, impacting more people in
There is a wide gap between Brands with a Purpose & Purpose driven Brands
Nobody wants to be lectured, shamed or shocked into supporting
"sustainability" or "corporate responsibility," so now’s the time to get
At Edelman, this is called as Showing Up Differently—a mantra we hope
that more brands and organizations will actively embrace.
• There is no longer a conflict between doing the “right thing” and “commercial
• In fact, there is a complex interaction of factors that has the characteristics of a paradox
– a situation in which oppositional tendencies are brought into close contact.
• The challenge is how to use such paradoxes to inform creative tension, leading to
innovation and growth.
The ones who resolve the paradox, follow a three step predictable path,
ACCEPT them CONFRONT them
figure out how to
● Clearly articulate what a broad variety of stakeholders expect from your company over the
short, medium and long-term – pay attention both to non-obvious ones who may not be
vocal, and to those who may appear excessively vocal or negative.
● Understand and collectively acknowledge what the paradoxes are between these views and
positions. An ability to hold these frequently conflicting views, without succumbing to the
need to reduce discomfort and anxiety, is a key leadership trait.
● Reach out to stakeholder groups that have been highly critical of your corporation. Several
leading companies have entered into negotiation processes with groups such as NGOs and
indigenous communities to make themselves heard in the corporate decision-making activity.
● Recognize that it may take time to resolve a paradox that is heavily embedded in old
structures. As the CEO of a leading food company recently told, ‘we could sell those
businesses – but we would only be giving the problem to someone else. We could shut
them down – but the market space would not go away and another company’s
products would fill it. The only responsible reaction is to evolve customer taste away
from over consumption of harmful products. This is our ethical responsibility and it
will take time’.
● Don’t strategize using old labels regarding what industry you are in, or what it takes to
succeed in that industry, as it only paints half the picture, and may become increasingly
redundant. For example, are you a drinks company which makes money from the sale of
alcoholic beverages – and your growth is dependent on increased consumption with
corresponding health and social consequences? Or are you a company that makes social
interactions more successful? This reframing opens up space for innovation and growth from
many different types of products and services as well.
● Make and announce brave decisions, rather than just statements of purpose, to stop doing
things that are out of alignment with your ‘purpose’. What you will start doing is as important
as what you will stop doing in the process of transformation.
Acceptance Confrontation Transcendence
+ + =
grounded in a deep
purpose characterized by
a quiet sense of service
to something greater than
the immediate needs of
customers and short-
term demands of
The failure to resolve paradoxes between “purpose” and “performance” can lead to
● low levels of trust in the authenticity of the corporation and its leaders
● increases in regulation and fines by governments
● a failure to attract high quality employees
● and a failure to grow, innovate, and provide a return to investors
This is not only about “doing the right things” but about identifying and
investing in new market opportunities, that are aligned to your
organization’s larger purpose, that not only pleases the diverse
stakeholders you face today, but sets your organization on the path to a
more stable and sustainable future.
Based on the above information, work on these parameters..
• Today, it’s not what you stand for, but how you stand for it that matters most.
• "How" is arguably the most crucial factor when it comes making or breaking a
Virgin America is a California-based airline that is on a mission to make flying good again, with brand
new planes, attractive fares, top-notch service, and a host of fun, innovative amenities that are
reinventing domestic air travel.
• We need more game-changing examples of brands that elevate purpose to the
level of extraordinary
• There is a spectrum of bold along which purposeful companies can play.
• On one side of the spectrum, there’s clever. Clever draws people in and creates a
certain level of engagement and buzz.
Promoted its battery technology
over competitors’ through an
unbeatable blend of design and
Democratized banking by
letting anyone around the
world transfer money
instantly via email, is game-
Making app enables
designers everywhere to
develop sustainable apparel
using the most advanced
materials and methods
CONNECT THE DOTS
• Too often, purpose remains siloed off as a corporate or operational activity, not
one that’s integrated into the brand itself.
• Lately, however, more brands are connecting the dots and taking a more balanced
approach to communications.
One out of every 5 children do not know where their next meal is coming
from. Project Sunshine is working towards achieving “No child should suffer from
hunger”. It is not only backed by an extensive sustainable business strategy and
employee engagement effort, it’s aimed at changing consumer behaviour. It
establishes a strong point of view, endears people to the brand and helps
consumers create a better future for children through their purchases, personal
relationships, social media activities, and more.
• Most brands rely on static content to relay their commitments to the world.
• But lately some unusually creative approaches have emerged from unexpected
players and such interactivity leaves a totally different impression, one that really
Tech giant HP (another Edelman client) unveiled Earth Insights, an
environmental partnership with non-profit group Conservation
International. HP built a multi-dimensional experience, consisting of a
living wall of rainforest plants embedded with touch screens containing
a series of provocative data visualizations.
As journalists, customers, employees, and partners approached the
installation and engaged with the visualizations, they were able to see,
touch, discover, and feel the power of HP technology for themselves.
LET PEOPLE RUN WITH IT
• Most of the purpose related campaigns were born from ideas worth spreading.
• They used culturally aware, creatively brilliant digital methods to engage
audiences and make them a part of the story itself.
In Follow the Frog’s case, Rainforest Alliance lovingly lampooned
it’s target audience, poking fun at their aspirations to lead
ecologically minded lifestyles, while pointing to the fact that making
sustainable purchasing decisions is now simple and easy.
In the case of The Scarecrow, the target audience was given the
opportunity to experience the dark side of food sourcing through a
captivating video, iPad game, and in-store experience that encouraged
better food choices and brand loyalty.
Let’s look at a few brands that prioritize purpose over short
According to Larry Merlo, CEO, “it’s
the right thing for us to do for our
customers and our company to help
people on their path to better
Paul Polman, the CEO announced
that shareholders should sell if they
did not agree with his decision to
stop giving quarterly results and
focus on the long-term creation of
value that is “equitable, shared and
1. CVS Pharmacy:
Mars has sought to align its activities with its stated purpose of “better
food today, a better world tomorrow” through saying to customers that
“new labeling will indicate how often it is recommended you consume
these products, based on how long it takes the body to restore balance
after eating these meals.”
What lessons can we learn to help brands build the right kinds
of social purpose campaigns?
• Audi’s #DriveProgress commercial
was aimed at striking an emotional
chord with many, creating a tension
around the topic of gender equality.
• The ad has garnered over 12m
YouTube views but with a very
polarising 45% v/s 55% ratio of likes
to dislikes, and very negative
comments from disgruntled
consumers who threatened to never
buy an Audi again.
• The commercial was unsuccessful in
creating this empathy as many male
viewers regarded it as anti-male and
V/S • The company created another ad
focused on gender equality in Spain
last Christmas that generated
significantly more positive feedback
(94% likes v/s 6% dislikes)
• In the Spanish Audi ad, the gender
stereotypes that surround the
traditionally male focused motor
industry is highlighted through the
way the choice of toys for boys and
girls are expected to fit socially
• Lesson 1: Build a strong link between your product or business and the
• Lesson 2: Your belief and POV needs to be clearly backed up by your on-
• Lesson 3: Build from a point of credibility
• Lesson 4: A shared fiction is more valuable than communicating facts
• Lesson 5: Whilst a social cause is usually serious, engagement can be more
• Lesson 6: Choose your enemy carefully (In terms of scripts and ideas)
Pointedly break the traditions
Because, with the reach and influence that brands and businesses
have, they have the potential to be a great power for good in our
5 ways for purposive brands to stand out
Lessons from companies that put Purpose ahead of short-term profits
Audi loses the brand activist race
People are praising Audi for its Super Bowl ad on its gender pay equality
See How Audi Plugs Gender Equality in Super Bowl Spot