Category: purpose

What lies behind the rhetoric of brand ‘Purpose’?

Richard Shotton has already dismantled the lazy logic that suggests there is a relationship between purpose and business performance.

The case for more perspective and greater humility has been made by Gareth Kay.

I want to offer just one more line of critique. 

Namely that if a business or brand tells you that it wants to help solve a big problem in the world, or that is has a higher purpose than simply selling stuff, or that it wants to make the world a better place, then marketing’s claims, promises, and manifestos are not what we should be interrogating.

Instead, we should be looking at where it sources its raw materials from

… its manufacturing processes

… its sustainability practices

… its employment practices

… its pension provisions

… its safety practices and policies

… its approach to workplace diversity

… its stance on worker representation

… its treatment of workplace whistleblowers

… its policy on pay equality

… its attitudes towards job automation

… its commitment to employee re-training

… how it compensates its senior management,

… what its incentivises senior management for

… its business practices

… how it treats its suppliers and partners

… its stance on corporate governance

… how it treats customer data

… how it protects customers’ privacy

… what it does with its profits

… what proportion of its profits go to civic or social good programmes

… if and where it chooses to pay corporate tax

… what legislation it lobbies for

… its political party donations

… how it defines success

… and how well all of this is aligned with its stated Purpose.

In other words if a business tells us that that it is driven by a world-changing purpose, we should enquire whether the entire organisation is pointed at that Purpose. Or just the marketing department, its agency, and its advertising.