We live in a swiftly changing world, where customers who used to accept what a brand was telling them shifted to customers that expect actionable values from these same companies. They want to see how brands are actually driving purpose and see proof that it’s not just a nice and shinny marketing campaign; they want a brand that talks the talk and walks the walk. According to a Havas survey, 75% of brands could disappear and would be easily replaced. Less than half of the brands (47%) are seen as trustworthy.
The world has become more vocal about social issues such as climate change, the #MeToo movement, Black Lives Matter, gender identity, hate speech and other issues. 62% of consumers want companies to stand up for the issues they are passionate about, and 66% of consumers think transparency is one of a brand’s most attractive qualities*. Consumers are demanding that brands take a stand.
Here, we will showcase four purpose-driven brands. Whether you are an established business or a start-up, we hope the cases below will make you reflect on your brand’s purpose and perhaps even inspire you.
Examples of Purpose-Driven Brands
Patagonia is the embodiment of a purpose-driven brand. In 2018 they changed their mission from “Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis” to a very purpose-driven mission “Patagonia is in business to save our home planet.
One of their initiatives has been their “1% for the planet”.
Since 1985 they have been donating 1% of sales to preserving and restoring the natural environment. They have encouraged other companies to join the 1% initiative. They have awarded over $140 million in cash and in-kind donations to domestic and international grassroots environmental groups, making a difference in their local communities.
Ben & Jerry’s
Ben & Jerry’s social mission compels them to use their company in innovative ways to make the world a better place. They are guided by their core values and seek in all they do, at every level of their business, to advance human rights and dignity, support social and economic justice for historically marginalized communities, and protect and restore the Earth’s natural systems.
One of the ways that they work towards these is through partnerships with, for example, NGO’s and other partners that are experts on the issues that they want to tackle. They have been vocal and active supporters of LGBTQ+ rights, racial justice, climate justice and many other causes.
This Swedish furniture giant has been making significant commitments to sustainability. The project called H22 is an excellent example of this. H22 will take place in the Swedish city of Helsingborg and explore the definition of ‘home’ by developing new living, community and retail ideas co-created between IKEA, the citizens of Helsingborg and other local and global partners.
Ikea is also committed to circular principles like second-hand shops, the removal of single-use plastic, zero emissions home deliveries by 2025, and the reduction of climate footprint by 70% per product before 2030.
Sustainability and fashion haven’t been the best of friends. There are significant opportunities left untapped, and Adidas has committed to step it up. From 2024, only recycled plastic will be used, and by 2050 all production will be climate-neutral.
One of the ways they want to promote sustainability and make it part of their culture is their new employee training called “How to Think and Act Sustainably”, where they offer employees the opportunity to contribute towards a more sustainable world through their day-to-day actions. This four-week training combines self-study and conversations with colleagues from across the globe to make employees aware of how they practice sustainability through a different lens, with a different starting point and with diverse possibilities to make a change.
Lush has been invested in sustainability from the start; it’s part of their DNA. They create solid beauty bars like shampoo, conditioners and cleansing balms to reduce water usage and plastic packaging. It’s fair to say that they are leaders as they have been doing this and innovating in this area since 1980.
Anno 2021, they have decided to take on a leadership role again by shutting down all their social media accounts. As Lush CEO Mark Constantine puts it, “I’ve spent all my life avoiding putting harmful ingredients in my products. There is now overwhelming evidence we are being put at risk when using social media.” This action comes in the wake of revelations from Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen.
Will other brands follow and start a revolution making social media platforms accountable and more responsible? To be continued.
Whether it’s by working with external partners who can help you achieve your goals with their experience and expertise or by educating and motivating your employees to be part of the change. As you can read, there are many possibilities to be part of something bigger, act on it and make sure you share your stand with your customers.
Which companies have I missed? Have you been inspired by other purpose-driven companies?
Want to create a purpose-driven brand?
MBi is Havas’ original brand framework that creates Meaningful Brand Ideas. In this cooperation, Havas and Neuromagic experts provide one-stop support for the MBi Workshop. Factoring in the functional, personal and societal ways in which a brand benefits the consumer and helps us unlock new insights. Contact us to learn more about how to create a purpose-led and meaningful brand strategy that drives growth for your organisation.
Sustainable Transformation Lead
Originally from Venezuela, Bettina Meléndez (she/her) grew up in the Netherlands and is currently based in Berlin. She is currently leading sustainable transformation within the service design department and creating bridges between Europe and Japan.
Sustainability is very dear to her, and she has a general passion for everything human.