I said it once, I’ll say it again: consumers want their favorite brands to have a purpose beyond just selling products and making a profit. They also want companies to be honest and transparent, and to follow through on commitments to the planet or society as a whole. Today, brands are being held to higher ethical standards due to the dramatic shift in the public’s perception of “sustainability” from a hippie problem to a corporate one. In other words, corporate responsibility is more than just a phrase and is starting to mean something real, instead of being just another buzzword. And for customers, actions speak louder than words.
In the last several years, technology has created more aware consumers that look for consistently new brand content (website, video, audio, social media, etc.). A brand with a purpose outside of just hawking its product has the opportunity to create a variety of mission and brand-related content to engage its customers even further than it could with purely sales-related content. Modern consumers have the opportunity, through digital media, to be constantly aware of the actions, or inactions, of a certain company, whether directors and executives want them to be or not.
Those crazy, do-good Millennials are a major driving force behind the sustainability in industry movement. They want to place their trust and their money, behind a company that is doing good things in the world. Brands that have a concrete “brand purpose” adds meaning and trustworthiness to their brand and their products, which allows customers to connect on an emotional level. Having a common purpose unites people and gives them the confidence their actions and spending contribute to society in a positive way. This, in turn, differentiates brands with a strong purpose and helps to create brand loyalty (and better sales) during a time when companies are competing fiercely for profits. Brands that have a concrete purpose can help attract new talent to companies as well; according to a 2015 study by Harvard Business Review and Ernst and Young, companies with a clear sense of purpose enjoy improved employee satisfaction and can innovate and transform better for their customers.
So, find something that you are passionate about and find a way to make a difference through your company! The project could be anything from environmental responsibility to making sure underserved people have shoes to wear (like TOMS). Your project just needs to be something that actually needs improving in the world. Keep authenticity at the heart of your initiative and always strive to maintain integrity throughout the program, because people HATE when you lie to them.