You Can’t Fake Purpose

You Can’t Fake Purpose

One of the reasons we focus on our client’s purpose is this: when a value or belief resonates from the inside out it has the power to define, unite and propel a business to great growth. Purpose doesn’t need to be charity or cause marketing, but it needs to encapsulate how the business adds value to people’s lives and it needs be owned by the senior team and the board of a business.

The best brands we work with know their purpose and live it through every part of the business. They use that purpose not as an advertising strap line or a content campaign burst, but as a guiding light for everything they do.

We’ve been working with the team at The NRMA for almost five years and the reason the content we create with them resonates is because it lives their purpose.

Rohan Lund, his talented team and the board make big decisions around their purpose: “To keep people moving”. This drives their major acquisitions, from investing in holiday parks to the Manly Fast Ferry service. It also helps us, as content creators, generate a content mission and relevant content-led campaigns.

Whether it be an internal welcome clip for new staff:

or a content-led campaign that highlights the work they do in the community.

The P word in Europe

This year in Cannes the P word came up a lot. And the notion that when you’re running your business and telling your purpose story, you can’t be partly committed.

Unilever CEO Alan Jope wrote a blog that called out brands for cause-washing and woke-washing, which pollutes purpose.

“It’s putting in peril the very thing which offers us the opportunity to help tackle many of the world’s issues and, in doing so, to build our brands,” he said. “What’s more, it threatens to further destroy trust in our industry, when it’s already in short supply. Marketing has a titanic trust problem.” 

The proof is in the numbers. On June 11 in London, Big Al announced that their purpose-led, Sustainable Living Brands are growing 69% faster than the rest of the business and delivering 75% of the company’s growth. Addressing the Deutsche Bank conference, Alan said:

“Two-thirds of consumers around the world say they choose brands because of their stand on social issues, and over 90% of millennials say they would switch brands for one which champions a shared belief or cause… Purpose creates relevance for a brand, it drives talkability, builds penetration and reduces price elasticity,”

Unilever’s commitment is so strong that in the future, he says,  every Unilever brand will be a brand with purpose.

Back in our patch

In a catch-up I had last week with the CMO of a big FMCG group, he mentioned the Purpose word had become over used – probably owing to some marketers and agencies giving it lip service and then serving up tactical price-point or product-proof solutions.

Personally I believe you have to nurture your purpose, live it through every action the brand takes, and tell the story in a way that is compelling and relevant to your audience, so they want to get involved and join your brand’s crusade.

So have a think about your why, how it aligns to your personal values and the cultural context of your customers. Then ask yourself whether you’re nurturing your brand purpose to its full potential, or just giving it lip service.

Our goal at 3rdspace is to help more businesses define their purpose with our content mission process. If you’d like to find out more drop us a note.


Rob Logan is the founder and head of content at 3rdspace – The Content Company