It’s all well and good to know why you do what you do, your raison d’etre, or your brand purpose; however, only by acting on your ‘what’ as a manifestation of your ‘why’ will its meaning truly resonate with your stakeholders, and most importantly, your consumers.
The value afforded to brand purpose has been voiced widely by leading brands such a Unilever, Patagonia, and Chipotle and thought leaders like Simon Sinek in his TEDTalk, Start with Why. This becomes ever more true as social and environmental commitments enter the equation, and are embedded in your brand purpose. Here, who you are and why you exist should be reflected in what you create.
Consumers are looking for rich, meaningful and purposeful engagements with brands at every touch point. The leading brands of today are putting their money where their mouth is, because consumers are in that every purchase is a vote for both the brand’s what (product) and why (purpose). Consumers today are also more demanding, informed and concerned about broader societal and environmental impacts when buying a product. Those brands that understand and leverage this changing mindset will not only maintain relevance in the minds of their consumers, but also achieve healthy financial dividends.
Target: Take Target as an example. Despite recent operational woes, the retail giant is expanding its ‘Made to Matter’ product line that is expected to exceed $1billion in sales this year. Composed of brands whose products contain organic or sustainable properties, such as Burt’s Bees, EVOL and The Honest Company, Made to Matter is a tangible manifestation of Target’s brand values and their Corporate Responsibility commitments integrated directly into their business offering.
G-Star: Taking a purposeful approach to products inspires innovation. Demonstrating the power of collaboration in addressing the critical issues of our time, G-Star, Pharrell Williams, and Bionic Yarn have come together to raise awareness and bring products to market with the goal of protecting one our most valuable and polluted resources – our oceans. G-Star’s first ‘Raw for the Oceans’ product line, which launched September 2014, featured denim products produced from recycled ocean plastic. This collection underpins G-Star’s long-standing commitment towards sustainability, and brings to life its commitments in a way consumers can actively see, touch, wear, and most importantly, purchase.
In an informative video, Williams, Raw for the Oceans’ Creative Director, explains, “…It’s about moving things forward… It’s [G-Star’s] intention, and the DNA of the brand. Their intention and purpose has to make sense, and G-Star’s does.’ The video ends with an invitation to consumers to participate in their efforts and ‘wear responsibility for the oceans’, making it simple, clear and tangible for how consumers can get involved and support a brand.”
Levi’s: Even beyond what they sell, brands can develop products that bring their purpose to life in surprising and impactful ways. Levi’s funding of a skate-park in Oakland demonstrates its authentic values as a brand committed to building community as well as aligning with action sports and youth and recreation activity. In the sea of Silicon Valley where tech giants’ philanthropic efforts have been revered more for their PR buzz than genuine intention or impact, Levi’s continues to shine as San Francisco’s most authentic brand -150 years running.
As stated by Levi’s president James Curleigh at the skate-park’s opening ceremony, “You’ve got to roll up your sleeves and give back to the community.” Backed by company rep Matt Sharkey, “Levi’s had no other initiative in Oakland except to support the community. We weren’t trying to get in good with the community before we open an office out here, or do anything along those lines.”
There are many ways your brand’s purpose can manifest itself for stakeholders and consumers; brands that lead recognize this and, most importantly, act to better the future of people, communities, and the planet.