It’s been a year since CEO of BlackRock, Larry Fink, sent ripples across the corporate world with his letter to CEOs which said that, ‘… to prosper over time, every company must not only deliver financial performance, but also show how it makes a positive contribution’. And so the heat was turned up on brands, with ‘society … demanding that companies, both public and private, serve a Social Purpose’.
But what is ‘Social Purpose’? And if your company doesn’t have one yet – how do you find it authentically and then communicate it effectively? Social Purpose is not CSR, or a bolt-on charity initiative. It’s how organisations make a positive impact on society through activities which are integrated and aligned with the core business of the company, and which contribute to long-term business growth.
Global fashion brand Jigsaw, introduced Social Purpose as part of its ‘Style and Truth’ ethos. They looked back at the core brand values of their founder John Robinson, who started the business by bringing an Afghan coat back to the UK in the 1970s. Building on the idea that British style is not 100% British, and promoting, ‘love, openness and collaboration’, Jigsaw’s socially purposeful campaign, ‘Love Immigration’, was voted the best Marketing Campaign of 2017 by Marketing Week readers. The campaign included a full takeover of Oxford Circus tube station in London and The Times website, as well as print, social and digital activity. Jigsaw also teamed up with Ancestory.co.uk, and staff carried out genealogy tests to celebrate the fashion industry and Britain as a whole being a nation of immigrants, with 45 different nationalities found to be working within the Jigsaw business alone.
Then there’s Global Healthcare company Novo Nordisk which has developed a purpose built on guiding principles to help defeat diabetes. The Novo Nordisk Way underpins every decision the organisation makes, describing who they are, how they work, what they want to achieve, and setting a clear direction for both the company and employees. Grounded in the ethos of the founders of the company back in 1923 to change the way diabetes is treated.
Developing a Social Purpose, which is fully integrated into any existing brand purpose, needs strategic work, employee engagement, a fully thought through roadmap and content plan, followed by creative integrated, multi channel campaigns, to ensure success.
A great example of a company doing it well is nappy brand Pampers, which has Social Purpose embedded into its mission statement: ‘Pampers is dedicated to every baby’s happy, healthy development’. Pamper’s festive campaign makes a contribution towards the refurbishment of a staffroom on a maternity unit for everybody who shares the hashtag #thankyoumidwife. They’ve also created a single of ‘Silent Night’ sung by Paloma Faith and a Pampers choir, with donations to various, midwife-related causes for every download. All within a concentrated time period over Christmas, for maximum effect.
An estimated 33% of consumers actively choose to buy from brands that are doing social or environmental good. And 45% of people say their trust in a business increases if they believe it has contributed to the greater good. (Edelman’s Trust Barometer).
Social Purpose is not only good for society. It makes good business sense too.
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