Profound changes in cultural sentiment are shifting the landscape for businesses globally. Many companies across all industries are stepping up and taking stances on issues largely considered “outside the realm” of business. Traditionally, brands sought to cultivate customers and employees that advocate for them; today, the tables have turned. People are demanding brands to champion the things that matter most to them. This is why we’re seeing increasing adoption of purpose-driven brand strategy.

Sustainability is a prime, timely example. According toa study from Unilever, one-third of consumers buy from brands based on social and environmental impact. Take the Plastic Free July campaign. The primarily international campaign challenges consumers to live without plastics for a month. It’s ambitious, but headlines show American companies are following suit in an effort to show they are sustainable brands that care about their customers’ interests.

Organizations are vying to join the ranks of companies like Cisco, McCormick, Texas Instruments and Johnson & Johnson. These big eco-brands recognized their environmental efforts with bold pledges. Earlier this month, McDonalds and Starbucks joined forces to create a cup made from recyclable, compostable materials with Closed Loop Partners. This isn’t the only move Starbucks has made toward curbing plastic use: it pledged to eliminate single-use plastic straws from its cafes globally by 2020. Seattle, Starbucks’ home city, made a similar pledge, banning plastic straws and utensils. And recently, Adidas committed to only using recycled plastic in sportswear by 2024. This type of purpose-driven brand strategy propels me, and other like-minded consumers, to say, “I want to buy from that brand.”

Consumers embrace purpose-driven brand strategy

In many ways, the brands we choose are extensions of who we are. The test of a mutually beneficial, satisfying brand relationship is rooted not in grand gestures or even in constant chatter and interactions. Rather, it’s smaller-scale, empathetic actions that matter most.

In many ways, the brands we choose are extensions of who we are.Click To Tweet

Of course, this surge in corporate activism didn’t happen overnight. When the current administration started reversing environmentally focused policies, sustainable brands stepped up. They’re taking a stand and strengthening their missions. For example, in response to the nation’s formal bid to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement last year, Google, Facebook, Target and even Campbells Soup refused to back down on climate action. Brands that show their commitment to the issues consumers care about often see a return on their ROI. Buying a product or service from a company known for its commitment to social value is an influential purchasing driver, according to Nielsen.

A purpose-driven brand strategy might be a “trend,” but it’s a long-term one. Connecting with your audience based on shared values is the new normal. And it’s something that must be at the heart of your overall brand strategy, not just marketing or one-off campaigns.

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With her combined talents in visual content creation and media relations, Jacqie strives to show AND tell unique narratives with every opportunity. Her experience spans the higher education, healthcare, technology and management sectors. Creative and detail-oriented, Jacqie helps ensure team efficiencies and client results. While she doesn’t own one yet, Jacqie has a passion for dogs, and hopes to one day rescue and train her own four-legged friend.