12 Jan Purpose: A brand’s witness statement to the world
3rd Space’s Rachael Sullivan consumer behavioural specialist, explains why now is the time to revisit and reconsider your brand’s purpose
Sir David Attenborough is one of the few public figures who has true inter-generational appeal, from baby boomers to Gen Z. While older fans have admired him since his earliest TV appearances, Attenborough’s unwavering commitment to preserving the natural world has also cemented him as an unlikely hero in the hearts and minds of young people. His latest documentary film, A Life On Our Planet, is described as his “Witness Statement” and a “Vision for the Future”. If you haven’t watched A Life On Our Planet, stop reading, grab your remote and watch it on Netflix now. Yes, it is distressing viewing. At times I felt ashamed to call myself a member of the human race. Yet it also conveys the right amount of hope. He reassures us that it is still possible to undo some of the damage we have inflicted on this planet – if we act now.
Marketing, advertising and owning my responsibility in the climate emergency.
As the climate emergency becomes more pressing, I have started to feel less and less okay about some of the work I have done. In a marketing and advertising career spanning over 15 years I’ve worked on brand and marketing campaigns for airlines, news corporations, telcos and retailers on hundreds of briefs with objectives that went something along the lines of, “launch new product X or sell more product Y”.
It’s not that I haven’t worked on incredible brands – I have. It’s not that I haven’t worked on really worthwhile foundation- or charity-based briefs – I’ve done that too. It’s more a feeling that, the older I get and now, as a parent myself, I realise that what I do for a living is part of a wider ecology.
I’m opening up to, instead of shutting out, the realisation that the industry we operate in looks at briefs and projects in silo. Partly because creative people move around so much, also because the division of labour has meant the work we do is fragmented – removed from manufacturing and distribution processes. As bottom lines are squeezed, we are already consumed and consuming what’s next instead of assessing the true impact of the work we have done and the impact it has had beyond sales figures.
It’s time to re-visit your brand’s purpose
As leaders across the world grapple with navigating uncertainty post COVID-19, CMOs and brand marketers are also handed a rare opportunity to reset. As companies look down the barrel of declining sales, the benefit-risk trade-off swings in the favour of purpose-driven marketing, providing a pause to think about what might be possible if we put planet before profit.
If your brand’s purpose statement was written more than a year ago, the chances are it needs a re-visit to ensure it resonates with today’s purpose-driven consumers.
Generation Z are demanding it
The latest EY Megatrends data tells us, “the next decade will be shaped by the maturation of the largest generational cohort in history — Generation Z. This cohort of people between 10- and 24-year olds comprises 1.8 billion people, making up 24% of the global population.”
Gen Z (and the subsequent Generation Alpha) are the first generations to be born into a world where the impacts of climate change were happening around them. Many Gen Zs believe that business must play a key role in addressing the most pressing global issues, particularly climate change. Gen Zs want to buy products from manufacturers who protect the environment and have a sustainable supply chain.
As a collective of advertising, branding and marketing professionals we must take responsibility and show accountability.
The Gen Z mindset is both a product of, and different to every generation before. They are driven by sense of purpose, focused on solutions, digitally connected, collaborative, and are certainly not afraid of acting with a sense of urgency on issues impacting our future.
Appealing to Gen Zs starts with ensuring a brand’s purpose is at the heart of the entire business and that leaders take ownership and responsibility for the impact this has on society and the planet. The next challenge is to cut through the deafening marketing noise to communicate with and connect with the values of Gen Zs, using content that promotes action.
Brands must transform on purpose
This change must come hand in hand with purpose – a brand’s witness statement to the world. Sir David Attenborough demonstrates that the rate of change to our biodiversity and planet over our lifetimes is unprecedented. Today it’s not enough for brands to adapt, they must reinvent frequently, to change our trajectory as a species and in doing so, ensure the course of a brand’s survival.
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 how your content marketing can better connect with your consumers by finding the place of shared purpose our team of marketing & content strategist, behavioural psychologists and creatives are here to help