Leaning into the Edge of Purpose

Many brands have a purpose statement these days, but very few use it as a tool for innovation, growth and ecosystem expansion to create new forms of value. We call that “leaning into the edge of purpose” and think of the edge as the line where the brand’s best self meets humanity’s greatest challenges.

It’s a high ask, but ultimately just an evolution of brand and business building in a crisis-driven world where consumers' expectations are elevated. 89.9% of US adults agree it’s important that a company acts ethically (MRI-Simmons, 2022). 66% of customers have stopped buying from a company whose values didn't align with theirs (Salesforce, 2022, State of the Connected Consumer). The list of top brand values for 2022 is led by integrity with 58% (The Harris Poll, 2022, Future of Ambition). 83% of consumers think companies should be actively shaping ESG best practices (PwC, 2021, Consumer Intelligence Series). And 74% say communicating transparently is more important now than before the pandemic (Salesforce, 2022, State of the Connected Consumer).

This trend of heightened expectations started with Millennials, was pushed further by Gen Z and has now influenced consumer culture at large. And just talking about big goals is not enough, brands must “walk the walk” if they want to be perceived as good corporate citizens in a circular economy. Positive or negative impact matters to people, they scrutinize corporate behaviors more than ever before and vote with their dollars for brands they trust.

The good news is that many organizations are on the right path. They just need to move beyond the tip of the iceberg, create depth and authenticity by building programs that make a difference. We shape those possibilities for client partners like Capital One, Diageo and P&G. We sharpen their strategic intentions and then imagine creative platforms, experiences and moments that open the door to meaningful engagements.

It’s often easier for founder-led brands (i.e. Patagonia, Warby Parker, KIND) because their leadership has built purpose into the business model and is mobilizing the entire organization in the desired direction. C-suite commitment is key to success, pushing for deeper analysis at the beginning of the process and validation at the end. Many rankings (i.e. Purpose Power Index, BERA, B-Corp) evaluate corporate action, making it measurable and tangible for stakeholders who in turn deepen their belief and investment in the organization.

To us the future is bright. The challenges on a health, social and economic level will continue to demand a shift in business behavior and even a recession is no excuse to go back to superficial advertising messages. The ideal value equation consumers are looking for includes price - no doubt - but purpose and powerful programs are driving conscious and subconscious decision making more than ever before.

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