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Purpose before profit can give brands an edge

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As brands strive for relevance and growth, a clear purpose brought to life in compelling ways can help brands get noticed and chosen.


Brand Purpose can be described as a higher order reason for a brand to exist than just making a profit.  At a strategic level ESG requirements and stakeholder pressure, are likely to give brand purpose a central role in marketing. Brand Purpose is often quoted as the 5th P of Marketing, (with Product, Price, Place and Promotion).


Food brands have traditionally tried to connect with consumers by emphasising the notion of being delicious.  Many businesses have moved to bring company purpose down to the brand level and that makes sense, if done correctly.   Why? Increasingly so consumers to align themselves with brands that authentically embrace a greater mission than pure profit. For some, mostly younger audience segments, mission or purpose is the primary motivation to choose between competitive brands. Purpose can also play a role in attracting the best talent to your organisation.


Patagonia epitomises what it means to be purpose-driven – “Patagonia is in business to save our home planet”.  Recently Ben & Jerry, the much loved and admired ice cream business has ended its franchise deal in Israel to stop its product being sold in occupied Palestinian territories (Butler, 2022).  But this development put this iconic brand at odds with its parent company Unilever, who have long emphasised its commitment to ethics and sustainability.  Others to have fallen foul of this sentiment include H&M and Nike, who faced a backlash in China last year after expressing concern over reports of forced labour in the Xinjiang region. 


Tony Chocolonely disrupted the chocolate market with its purpose to bring equality to the chocolate industry and its mission to make ‘slave free’ chocolate ("Brand Forum February 2020 - Ben Greensmith, Tony’s Chocolonely", 2022).  Another business whose foundation is based on Brand Purpose is The Lost Explorer mezcal (Clarke, 2022).  Committed to the sustainable production of high quality hand crafted Mezcal, in a manner that benefits the local community in Oaxaca. It protects the land’s biodiversity and uses regenerative agricultural practices, tracks its carbon footprint and uses renewable energy.  Economic empowerment is part of its formula partnering with local suppliers, enterprises and social programmes.


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Brand purpose is important because it shows your customers that you’re not just your products, or sizzling advertising campaigns. You have a purpose, and it is bigger than just turning a profit ("What we know about brand purpose | WARC", 2022). As brand teams navigate a challenging inflationary environment, it is important for companies not to neglect brand purpose and allow your brand play an authentic role in societal issues, be that local or global.



Brand Forum February 2020 - Ben Greensmith, Tony’s Chocolonely. Bordbia.ie. (2022). Retrieved 13 October 2022, from https://www.bordbia.ie/industry/events/past-events-presentations/speaker-presentations-2020/brand-forum-february-2020---ben-greensmith-tonys-chocolonely/.


Butler, S. (2022). Unilever sells off Ben & Jerry’s in Israel to avoid West Bank row. The Guardian. Retrieved 17 October 2022, from https://www.theguardian.com/business/2022/jun/29/unilever-sells-off-ben-jerrys-in-israel-to-avoid-west-bank-row.


Clarke, T. (2022). Brand Forum Brand Purpose Event & Culinary Trends Study Launch. Presentation, Bord Bia Global Hub, 140 Pembroke Rd, Dublin 4, D04 NV34/Online.


What we know about brand purpose | WARC. Warc.com. (2022). Retrieved 13 October 2022, from https://www.warc.com/SubscriberContent/article/bestprac/what-we-know-about-brand-purpose/en-GB/109945