Like Brexit, the debate on the subject of Purpose seems to be on an ever-loudening crescendo. Sticking the word "Purpose" into the headline of an article that's about something completely different is guaranteed clickbait for the marketing community, in the way that "digital" was a decade ago.
And, like Brexit, both sides - as this is what it has become - are capable of persuasive argument and rhetoric
My own view is that, in many of these articles, the language is wrong. The use of the words "higher" and "beyond" and "above" suggests a judgement that purpose is noble and profit is dirty.
Whereas surely they should work symbiotically?
A brand does something positive for the individual user. This can be practical, cognitive, sensory, emotional, or some combination. Some used to call this the benefit.
And that brand - or business - does something positive on the collective level - for the family, community, society or the world. For many brands and companies, this was always so, but maybe not vocalised. Changes in the world, in society, and in technology mean that this collective positive contribution - purpose, if you like - is becoming an imperative, rather than a nice to have.
It doesn't have to be about the UN sustainable goals
. It doesn't have to be a "cause." It doesn't even have to be totally exclusive to your brand or company, as long as you do it in your own distinct way. But I believe it does have to relate back to the product or service your brand offers, and what it does for the individual.
A good example, for me, is what the brand Carling
have done in the UK. 3 pubs a day there close their doors for good, and with the high level of Beer Duty in the UK, that will continue or worsen. A movement has started via Britain's Beer Alliance
to celebrate the positive role that Britain's pubs play in individual lives and communities: Long Live the Local
As part of the movement, Carling
have produced a music video with the band Slaves
, who started in pubs, which looks at the role pubs - and beer - play in music and creativity as well as community. It's not high and mighty, yet reflects brand belief and values, moving from the individual to the community.
Mine's a pint, thanks.