Activating Brand Purpose & Sustainability At Retail

We are a multi-award winning social impact and brand activation agency, specializing in activating brand purpose, sustainability and social enterprise at retail. We help people buy on purpose.

What is Brand Purpose?
There are many different definitions of both ‘brand’ and ‘purpose’ in circulation but a simple definition that we like that combines the two, is referenced here in this Forbes article.

Brand purpose is “a higher-order reason for a brand’s existence that goes beyond making money and adds value to society.”

Steve Jobs articulated Apple’s purpose like this… 

“At Apple, we create tools for the mind that advance humankind.”

Lego’s is… “Inspiring the builders of tomorrow”

And here’s the one for Tesla… “To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.” (Notice – it mentions nothing of  electric cars!

The eXo (Exponential Organization) community refers to Brand Purpose as an MTP or (Massive Transformative Purpose). If articulated well and embedded into the DNA of the brand or organization, The MTP is capable of scaling impact, reducing costs and outpacing the competition by 10X.

They define an MTP like this: “Massive Transformative Purpose (MTP) describes a better future for the world (or at least your industry or community). It doesn’t specify how. It’s not about you, your customers, your organization, your products or services. No ‘you’, ‘we’ or ‘us’. You are not in the picture. It is not a marketing slogan. It is your north star, but it doesn’t restrict your organization from changing direction. It might excite and scare you, and catch in your throat, it matters that much to you. You might never fully achieve it,yet it is still worth striving for. A great MTP attracts the customers,community, partners and resources you need to make a dent in the universe…”

A great purpose attracts customers, community, partners & resources you need to make a dent in the universe

Steve Jobs articulated Apple’s purpose like this… 

“At Apple, we create tools for the mind that advance humankind.”

Lego’s is… “Inspiring the builders of tomorrow”

And here’s the one for Tesla… “To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.” (Notice – it mentions nothing of  electric cars!

The eXo (Exponential Organization) community refers to Brand Purpose as an MTP or (Massive Transformative Purpose). If articulated well and embedded into the DNA of the brand or organization, The MTP is capable of scaling impact, reducing costs and outpacing the competition by 10X.

They define an MTP like this: “Massive Transformative Purpose (MTP) describes a better future for the world (or at least your industry or community). It doesn’t specify how. It’s not about you, your customers, your organization, your products or services. No ‘you’, ‘we’ or ‘us’. You are not in the picture. It is not a marketing slogan. It is your north star, but it doesn’t restrict your organization from changing direction. It might excite and scare you, and catch in your throat, it matters that much to you. You might never fully achieve it,yet it is still worth striving for. A great MTP attracts the customers,community, partners and resources you need to make a dent in the universe…”

A great purpose attracts customers, community, partners & resources you need to make a dent in the universe

Key Take-Outs

What’s common to all of these definitions and examples is that they succinctly capture:

  • The brand’s reason for being (i.e it’s unique function and what it exists to do)
  • A social impact or ambition that’s bigger than the brand itself (i.e how it creates a better world that can benefit humankind in someway)
  • A motive that’s beyond simply making money (i.e a bigger role than returning better margins, profits or shareholder value. In fact, the most recent Edelman Trust Barometer finds that 71% of respondents say that if they perceive that a brand puts profit over people, they will lose trust in that brand forever!)

So, Where Do I Start? 

Brands for Good and the Sustainable Brands community in partnership with BBMG and a pioneering group of global brand leaders – including The Procter & Gamble Company, The EstéeLauder Companies, Happy Family Organics, Keurig Dr Pepper, Target, Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health, NationalGeographic, HEINEKEN USA and VEOCEL™  have created the Pull Factor Project.  –  a cross-industry collaboration to unlock the dynamics of desire that make sustainable living easier, aspirational and more rewarding for more people around the world. It’s also a great tool for articulating your brand purpose.The Pull Factor Framework unites what people want, with what the world needs and the brand uniquely offers as a model for more purposeful brand building.

Here’s a selection of bands that have adopted this approach (whether consciously or not that are cited in the original Pull Factor study)

So, Where Do I Start? 

Brands for Good and the Sustainable Brands community in partnership with BBMG and a pioneering group of global brand leaders – including The Procter & Gamble Company, The EstéeLauder Companies, Happy Family Organics, Keurig Dr Pepper, Target, Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health, NationalGeographic, HEINEKEN USA and VEOCEL™  have created the Pull Factor Project.  –  a cross-industry collaboration to unlock the dynamics of desire that make sustainable living easier, aspirational and more rewarding for more people around the world. It’s also a great tool for articulating your brand purpose.The Pull Factor Framework unites what people want, with what the world needs and the brand uniquely offers as a model for more purposeful brand building.

Here’s a selection of bands that have adopted this approach (whether consciously or not that are cited in the original Pull Factor study)

Burger King

Through their “100% Whopper” Campaign, Burger King reassured customers through a series of videos of real people’s reactions as they tasted the meatless Whopper for the first time.

Land O’Lakes

Land O’Lakes decided to highlight all of the female farmers that make Land O’Lakes possible.The “She-I-O” music video features footage of the Dotterer sisters, their cousins and their daughters, and was shot by a female filmmaking team. With Maggie Rose leading vocals,the entire production was a full female team from end to end.

The North Face

The North Face developed a refurbished product line and marketing campaign that could extend the life of its products, deepen its relationship with a new generation of consumers and position the brand as a leader of a new recommerce movement that inspires more adventures with less waste.

Activating Brand Purpose at Retail

Articulating brand purpose is one thing but activating brand purpose takes real focus and singularity because unless you have access to both the ‘real-estate’ and attention to tell your brand purpose story, it isn’t necessarily going to register – especially when people are shopping.

Convenience always wins out and all these good intentions can often go to waste. If we want brands to be instruments of change and forces for good in the world then we have to find ways of both engaging the shopper in a very short space of time and making them feel that it’s all worth it. 

More purposeful shopping and sustainable living starts with making better choices and buying decisions, so we’ve adapted the Pull Factor model in a way that’s capable of changing shopping behavior at retail too. The adaptation that follows brings it into the realm of classic shopper marketing – by providing more focus and clarity around what will enable successful activation at retail by including what’s actually preventing the shopper from making a purchase. We often find that the best platform and shopper solution lies at the intersection of the brand experience, commercial innovation and social impact — resulting in social enterprise based partnerships between companies, retailers and nonprofits.

A good place to start then is to draw this simple Venn diagram and then find the intersection between what your brand uniquely offers (which could be a distinctive functional and / or emotional benefit) what the world needs (the social or environmental issue you want to help solve) and the barrier to purchase that’s currently getting in the way and preventing the shopper from getting what they want i.e. the ‘trade-off’

By adding the ability to fine tune and customize that idea – by capturing the company’s vision (behind the brand) the retailers positioning and the no-profit’s mission… you are also ensuring that there is corporate alignment behind the brand (to unlock resources), the ability to customize to initiative to the values and experience of the retailer (to secure support) and a clear role for the nonprofit to play (to enable delivery).

So that’s the trick…and it’s the ability to synthesize,  simplify and then get buy in from all your key stakeholders that guarantees success.   We have a wealth of examples and case studies as well as in house workshops and training to empower you and your teams to apply this approach to live briefs and opportunities.  If you’d like to find out more get in touch.