May 18th, 2020

When the world asks, “What are you responsible for?” What will you say as a brand?

To be the best? To grow? To conquer the market? Tired rhetorics from a golden age of ‘better, faster, stronger’. The world has woken up and is asking for brands to do more. Not more product, more services, more money, but to contribute. To change. To add value. To be conscious. To use today for tomorrow. To listen. To care. To take responsibility.

Since we started in 2011, we’ve been helping brands to understand their purpose and to try and connect with their audience on an emotive level, for long term relationships over short term sales spikes. We’ve always believed that purpose led brands have a greater chance of an audience listening, engaging, investing, buying and being loyal to a brand that they feel stands for something.

Over the past few years the concept of purpose has become commoditised through agency sales, buzzwords and placed in non-truths. For some brands and for the people that work for them it’s lost its meaning or importance. Some brands tick the purpose box and then do something else entirely or nothing at all. It’s sad to see but ultimately they’ve followed something formulaic rather than doing what is true for themselves and their audience. When that purpose is no longer authentic, consumers will sniff it out from a mile away and so those brands miss the opportunity to connect with them.

But purpose can be the most powerful and gratifying thing for any brand when dealt with authentically, to its employees and its audience, and moves the brand forward. And there are plenty of brands that can attest to the success of it.

We have found that what actually drives purpose or a cause is conviction and an undying responsibility towards it. History tells us that brands, created out of invention or innovation have changed the course of time and how human beings see the world and behave in it. Ford, Apple, Amazon, Google, Starbucks, Visa, Facebook to name a few, love them or hate them, are all brands that have massively changed the world we live in. They all started with a cause – to want to change the world for the better. To take responsibility to do something about it. And therein lies the key.

Brands who take responsibility have the power to change minds, human endeavour and the world. A cause is nothing without conviction or action. Responsibility drives it all and brings the brand together. The walk to the talk. The proof in the pudding. The beat of the heart.

This should not be confused with sustainability or corporate social responsibility, the corporate dressage for ‘doing good’, something brands should already consider regardless of purpose. These are add-ons. Commendable, though frankly, in today’s world, necessary.

We’re talking about responsibility ingrained in the brand. Something that came with its inception and not through selling strategies, law or policy. A responsibility to the brand’s audience. Who the brand was created for in the first place. The people you want to buy into the brand, product or service. Who you care about and have a duty to. The responsibility to take something and make it better. Better for a single person or the whole world, it’s a responsibility that creates value, trust and belief – an emotional connection that is long term and lasting, that aligns with the audiences views, goals and needs, is empathetic, empowering and clear.

Responsibility is at the heart of any good brand. It is not measured, but an ongoing commitment to the cause. And it never relents. It’s this duty that brands have that shows clearly how much they care about something, somewhere or someone. It is the difference between a great brand and just another business.

Responsibility is what we care about and love most in brands. It’s what in fact gives us our own cause – to help brands to lead with heart and instil a duty of care for their audience and the world. To help brands take responsibility, then to define, defend and deliver it to the world. So when the world does question what they are responsible for, they have a clear and exciting answer.