The business case for Brand Purpose

Brand Purpose, what is brand purpose?

The business case for defining and activating your social purpose (why you exist and the value you create for society) has been mounting, with media mentions of “purpose-driven” increasing eight-fold last year. Here is some of the evidence in one place for easy reference.


People are looking for brands to have a social purpose

The Edelman Trust Barometer reports that 80% of consumers agree that a business must play a role in addressing societal issues; they want a company to take actions that both increase profits and improve the social conditions of the community in which it operates.

The same number agree that CEOs should be visible in discussing societal issues; 67% say CEOs focus on short-term profit too much, and not enough on long-term impact. Importantly, 45% attribute business’s contribution to the greater good as the reason their trust in business has grown. But despite the perceived importance of purpose, business leaders are seen as underperforming.

Nielsen found that 2 in 3 consumers will pay more for products and services from brands that are committed to making a positive social impact. This is supported by Havas Media’s Project Superbrand who reported that a majority of mainstream consumers and more than 3 in 4 ‘Prosumers’ (consumers who influence the behaviour of others) say they prefer to buy from companies that share their personal values and are “doing good”.

The importance placed on Purpose increases by generation

Almost nine in 10 (87%) millennials believe the success of a business should be measured by more than just its financial impact. They hold business in high regard, with 76% maintaining that it has a positive impact on wider society. Millennials are undoubtedly values-driven; 73% consider a company’s Brand Purpose when deciding whether to work there, and 56% would rule out working for a company based on its values.

Brands with Purpose perform better

There are numerous pieces of research that demonstrate the business impact of Brands with Purpose, so here are just a few.
The Meaningful Brands Report from Havas Media reports that a “meaningful brand” (brands that improve people’s quality of life and wellbeing) has a 46% higher ‘share of wallet’ – how much a person spends on a particular product – than a low-scoring brand. In addition, the top 25 meaningful brands outperform the stock market by 133%.

The annual BrandZ study conducted by Millward Brown combines consumers’ views and opinions on brands with data on financial performance. Analysis of the key brands in its Top 100 over the past decade shows that brands with a strong Purpose (which make consumers’ lives better) build better brand equity.

Finally, research from the E.Y. Beacon Institute and Harvard Business School shows that companies that lead with Purpose are more likely to be profitable; 85% of Purpose-led companies have shown positive growth in the past three years, with 58% growing by more than 10%.

Purpose boosts employee engagement

Brand Purpose if great for employee engagement, job satisfaction, attracting and retaining talent. Sadly two-thirds of us are dissatisfied with our jobs. Yet the 2016 Workforce Purpose Index by Imperative & LinkedIn reported that 73% of employees in businesses with a clear Brand Purpose are satisfied.

If all that’s not enough to make the case, there is more. Our book (How good is your brand purpose?) provides cross-sector case studies, quotes and inspiration.