This new expectation has inspired many brands in recent years to turn greater attention to establishing and messaging around their company’s purpose -- a pivot that’s resonated with consumers in a deep way.
There is no single “right” way for brands to operationalize their purpose. When we look across the brandscape, we see endless variations in how high-growth companies are living their purpose in a way that builds trust and drives results. For example:
-- Skincare and wellness brand Hanahana Beauty supports the uplifting of women of color. The company designs and manufactures all its products with natural ingredients and, through its Circle of Care, delivers healthcare and sustainable resources to the cooperatives from which it sources ingredients.
-- Financial brand NerdWallet is “on a mission to provide clarity for all of life's financial decisions.” The company’s principles of “empathy over ego” and “innovation for the greater good” don’t feel like those of your parents’ financial planning resource, and the company’s donation-matching and employee-led volunteer program, Nerds Pay It Forward, demonstrates that its stated purpose is more than just clever copywriting.
-- Swimwear brand Youswim is “on a mission to turn the tide on standard, inflexible sizing by creating swimwear that represents women realistically, accepting our bodies as they are—unique, ever-changing, and unedited.” In other words, what Dove set out to do for women’s beauty, Youswim is doing for women’s sense of self while splashing around in the water. The company’s desire to celebrate what’s real and natural extends to its manufacturing transparency, as well as the honest and direct tone that is reflected across its copy and photography.
-- Kombucha tea brand Brew Dr. is the first national kombucha company to become a Certified B Corporation, which means the brand upholds the highest standards of social and environmental performance, transparency and accountability. The company is committed to using local sources, even at scale, and donates a portion of its revenue to organizations that support racial justice and the planet as a whole. Through its “Local Love” program, the company gives employees a paid day off to volunteer at an organization of their choice.
As these and other purpose-driven brands demonstrate, putting purpose first means having something to say, not just something to sell. These brands haven’t just installed purpose onto their organizations like hood ornaments. They prioritize their purpose and weave it into everything they do.
Operationalizing purpose is all about turning ethos into action. To be a purpose-first enterprise, you don’t have to be out to save the world. You just have to improve your corner of it. So find your corner -- and get to work.