Why brands should never market their purpose


Jul 23, 2021

by Rob L


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You’re probably thinking…‘purpose - another marketing buzz-word’. And you’d be right - purpose-driven marketing has risen to the top of the marketing agenda, but, for us at 3rdspace, purpose-led marketing isn’t a trend, it’s in our DNA. And it’s no longer something that brands can ignore - they have to define it, and most importantly, demonstrate their beliefs and actions to gain consumer trust and cement relationships.

Purposeful purpose

First let’s dust off our marketing 101 books and remind ourselves of what a purpose is - it is the reason a company or brand exists (or, as Simon Sinek now labels it, it’s your Just Cause). It is not CSR, it’s not sustainability. Yes, those may be policies or initiatives that back-up your purpose, but alone, they are not it.

Most brand’s have a purpose, many spend thousands crafting it to put on their ‘about’ section of their website or beautifully printed brand handbooks, often never to be looked at again. But the world-changing events of 2020 propelled brands to ‘stand for something’ and perhaps this is partly the reason that, over the past 18-months, purpose-driven marketing has become distorted.

It’s been well publicised that consumers are increasingly seeking purpose-driven brands. In Deloitte’s Global Millennial Survey, it was reported that 60% of millennials and Gen Z plan to buy more from brands that supported their workforce and positively affected society during the pandemic. And, according to Kantar - purpose-driven brands have grown at twice the rate of others. So you can understand why brands want a piece of the purpose pie, but to be truly purposeful, it shouldn’t take mass-publicised events to make you speak out as a brand. Brand’s should have a voice if it’s relevant - a voice honed in purpose to be authentic, otherwise it will only damage consumer trust, not improve it.

A great example of purpose-driven storytelling is by world-leading technology corporation, NEC. We’ve worked with NEC for the last two years and everything we do is embedded in their purpose, captured in their Vision: Inspiring and Transforming Experiences and Mission: we’re here to help solve tomorrow’s technology challenges today. This is done by defining and demonstrating how NEC products and services help organisations to create value for business, customers, communities and the world.

Bleed purpose          

To be truly successful at purpose-driven marketing, it can’t be just marketing, it has to be ingrained throughout your whole business, from the inside out, and that starts in the boardroom.

Our 3rdspace model combines four key areas, to ensure your purpose-driven content creates action:


What is your purpose? When did you last re-look at it? Now is the time that brands need to dust-off that brand book and re-assess. The cultural landscape has changed at an expediential rate. Does your purpose truly bleed through your organisation? If not, then why not?


Your purpose is the beginning of company culture. It has to be aligned to your business priorities. It's a myth that profit and purpose can’t coexist - just look at Nike.


People aren’t just consumers or customers, they’re your employees (we like to call it human-to-human). If the recent Brewdog frenzy has taught us anything, it’s to start from the inside-out. If your people believe in your purpose then your consumers are more likely to.


Don’t market your purpose, market the impact you want to/have and decide how you’re going to measure it - something any CMO focused on ROI will welcome. It’s about re-thinking the impact you want to have as a business, so in the long run your business has the best chance of appealing to the greatest number of customers. It’s about questioning, clarifying and proving why you do what you do, because businesses that exist with the sole reason of creating shareholder returns have no role in tomorrow’s world.

How do B2B brands like NEC do this? Firstly, NEC doesn't talk to clients about its purpose. They start by aligning their people around the idea and how they can create value, then they extend these conversations through storytelling on owned, earned and paid platforms like their website, LinkedIn and other platforms communicating to clients about the impact and legacy they want to have.

Whether that’s hosting virtual events, like NEC’s Immersion for Australia's most senior business leaders, inviting them to take ‘a long hard look’ at what the world could look like post Covid-19; The Creating Value Series hosted by Dylan Alcott (Paralympian, NEC ambassador and advocate for people with disabilities) which heroes those who achieve the extraordinary, through a positive mindset; Or most recently, National Gallery of Victoria partnership with Quantum Memories by Refik Anadol, which used world-leading technology to create the most revolutionary data art humanity has ever seen. Demonstrating that in a time of so much uncertainty, NEC believes there is so much possibility when we look forward with a positive mindset for change - in pursuit of orchestrating a brighter world.

David Borean, Vice President Brand and Customer Experience NEC says “As a future-focused technology organisation, the very reason we exist is to help solve tomorrow's technology challenges today. By putting this purpose as the central thread through everything we do, we are able to remain true to who we are, and in turn, consumers see the positive impact that combining humanity and technology can have to create new value for communities and the world.”jasaseo.link

It’s not for everyone

A purpose-led approach isn’t for all, but as expectations and socially-conscious mindsets grow, brands must evolve their purpose at the speed of culture, to create an emotional connection with their people, cementing them as a brand for the long-run.

3rdspace is a content marketing company whose purpose is to help purpose driven brands connect with the values of purpose driven consumers. If you’d like to chat about developing a tone of voice guide for your brand to better connect with your consumers  our team of marketing & content strategist, behavioural psychologists and creatives are here to help. rob@3rdspace.com.au

Looking for more inspiration? Check out more blogs here

Find out more about our clients and work here

Download our Free Content With Purpose Handbook


3rdspace acknowledges Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures; and to Elders past and present.
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