Each year, Wired magazine gathers together some of the smartest minds in technology to look at the business landscape, and decide which trends will impact it the most over the following year. In the most recent edition, alongside predictions around nanotechnology, humanised robots and biological banking was the statement that 2015 will be the year of ‘purpose-driven brands’.
If you are unsure of what a purpose-driven brand is, it is simply an organisation that has a mission and a purpose which extends beyond just making money.
Think about Facebook “making the world more open and connected” through internet.org or Google running special projects to “organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful”. Tech brands are becoming increasingly more purpose driven, but more traditional brands have been reaping the rewards of being guided by a social responsible mission for years.
Take for instance the outdoor clothing brand, Patagonia, which gave away 10% of their revenue to environmental causes, and shoe brand TOMS give away one product to someone in need, for every product that they sell.
“Businesses need profits to survive. The less we make, the less we will have to give away, and the less other companies will think we have a mission that is worth imitating” – Yvon Chouinard, Patagonia Founder.
Purpose-driven brands are becoming more and more valuable, but the growth of brands who stand for something is being driven by more than a desire to tick a corporate social responsibility (CSR) box. Purpose-driven brands make more money, not just via an increase in loyalty and customer satisfaction, but in revenue and economic value. In 2013 Harvard Business Review reported how companies that practice “conscious capitalism” perform TEN times better than that of the S&P 500.
I have been a long time admirer of “brands who stand for something more than themselves” for many years, but the tipping point for me came when I read an article in VentureBeat in December 2014. Twitter co-founder Evan Williams explained how he was launching a VC company called Obvious Ventures, which would only invest in startups and companies that created “profits with a purpose”. I loved this idea of purpose-driven brands so much that I even wrote a book about it.
One of my favourite examples is Coca-Cola. Not only are they one of the world’s most valuable brands and by far the biggest social brand in the world, but they are also driven by a strong CSR message through their foundation. I have heard it said that the fastest way to get drugs or disaster relief supplies anywhere in the world is through the Coca-Cola logistics network.
As part of my session at Performance Marketing Insights in Berlin, I will be explaining how Coca-Cola became so successful, and what brands can learn from the way that they run their business. I’m really looking forward to sharing this message as I will be sharing some behind-the-scenes insights for the first time. I think it will inform and inspire brands to not just become more financially successful, but to see the social and commercial benefits of standing for something larger than themselves. I hope to see you there!