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Purpose Driven Marketing: 3 Key Ingredients for Ubiquitous Success

Do you want to increase your market share with a brand that moves, not only money but also people? Are you and your colleagues struggling to align your brand with the core values and primary motivators of your audience? Do you wish you had access to all tools needed for gaining a deep understanding of what matters to your audience? Then this article will show you how to regain consumers’ trust with a purpose driven brand.

Like many marketers, your brand might be facing the challenge of regaining consumers’ trust. As you know, a lack of trust undermines the continuation of your business. The adage goes: 'people do only business with companies they know, like and trust.’ It’s still true! And if you ignore this trust gap and do nothing, you know where that is leading you. The business will miss major trends and opportunities and cease to grow. And competitors who do better will win. But it does not have to be that way. Let's unravel the key ingredients for purpose driven marketing that aligns itself with the reason your company exists and wins over your consumers’ hearts and minds.

Earn trust with purpose

So, how do you win consumers’ trust in the long run? By showing you not only care about profit but also serve people and the planet. In other words, by operating your business with a purpose. As Founding CEO Laurence D. Fink of BlackRock recently wrote in his annual letter to CEOs:

"Society is demanding that companies, both public and private, serve a social purpose. To prosper over time, every company must not only deliver financial performance but also show how it makes a positive contribution to society. Companies must benefit all of their stakeholders, including shareholders, employees, customers, and the communities in which they operate."

Challenged by today's market conditions, you need to embrace purpose driven marketing to excite and mobilize consumers to support your brand. Consumers demand that your company moves beyond making a profit and acts also for the good of society. If purpose driven marketing is done well, you will improve trust among your clients and attract new groups of consumers. Purpose driven brands are especially appealing to influential consumer groups such as Millennials. They are eager to buy purposeful brands.

Live your purpose

However, if you decide to embrace purpose driven marketing for closing the precipitous gap of mistrust, you should avoid the trap of pretending. Be warned by the words of David Sable - Global CEO at Y&R:

"There is sufficient evidence to show that Trust—and Purpose, in all its complexities—still drive value. My sense is that when it’s real, Brand Purpose works. And although we get taken in by Fake News and such, faking Brand Purpose is quickly discerned, and the backlash can be disastrous."

 How can you make your brand purpose and brand story credible and sincere? It all starts with your ‘Why’. Why does your company exist and what are your values? By going back into the history of your company, you will reconnect with the core values that started your business. What your organization stands for, your purpose, mission, and objectives are all steered by your organization's values. To reach your audience with the right message, you need a deep understanding of the main reason your organization exists. Your WHY (Simon Sinek).

Unilever serves as a leading example:

The sense of social responsibility is ingrained in Unilever's success to this day. William Lever, one of the founders of Unilever, was a leading example of building a business with a purpose. In the words of Unilever:

"From its beginnings to the present day, William Lever's caring approach to his workers, his customers, and the planet formed the foundation of our company values and approach today."

As Unilever's example illustrates, purpose marketing can only work if the brand story you convey is authentic. The story only works if it is rooted in your business DNA. Your brand purpose must align with your values and connect with your audience's primary motivators to listen and act.

Dove is another good example:

As Dove explains:

"Every woman’s version of beauty is different and, if you ask us, these differences are there to be celebrated. That’s what real beauty is all about – the unique things that set us apart from each other and make us one of a kind. We’ve championed this version of beauty for the past 60 years, and celebrated diverse women in our groundbreaking real beauty campaigns."

These two examples illustrate your story will be credible if the problem you're trying to solve is embedded in the reason of your existence, exemplified by your history, and closely related to your product. A lot of those stories are already present in your company.

Align your purpose with values: inside out and outside in

There are three keys to making your purpose-driven brand work: 

  1. your purpose needs to express and align itself with who you are
  2. your purpose has to be embraced corporate-wide
  3. your purpose has to resonate with the values of your target audience.

Let's dive deeper into each of these essential conditions and illustrate what is required to make your purpose-driven marketing work:

  • 1 Clarify: know your purpose
    If you don't know where to start, learn from brands that were born with a purpose, like Patagonia. Yvon Chouinard, Patagonia's founder who started as a climber in 1953, phrases the hard-iron will to never lose touch with why Patagonia exists:

    "We have never had to make a "break" from the traditional corporate culture that makes businesses hidebound and inhibits creativity. For the most part, we simply made an effort to hold to our own values and traditions."

    From the very beginning, when Patagonia was a tiny company, they embraced the fight against creeping pollution, deforestation, the disappearance of fish and wildlife. And to this day, their mission expresses the same values and reason they exist as a company, as stated in Patagonia's mission:

    "Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis."

    However, there is one caveat: if you're trying to be what you are not, that might backlash against your brand perception, and eventually against your profit. Therefore, take notice of what Zoe Harris, Group Marketing Director at Trinity Mirror, has said in Marketing Week:

    “There can be huge exaggeration around purpose for some brands, to the point it is incredibly far-fetched...”

  • 2 Embrace: share purpose company-wide
    The second condition is a company-wide embracement of the purpose. This company-wide involvement does not only require company-wide communication of core values and telling stories to illustrate and support these values, but also knowing where your employees stand. Glocalities values-based research can help you to identify your employees' values and provides new insights and inspiration for aligning them with the purpose of your company.

  • 3: Reinforce: align purpose with consumers’ values
    The third condition for brand purpose success is a need to align it with the values of your target audience. Purpose driven communication requires telling stories and using the right persuasion tactics to trigger engagement with your brand. Consumers have needs, but purpose driven marketing goes beyond those needs. Purpose driven brand communication works if it:

    1. shows consumers what you value as meaningful,
    2. is credible because it's what you stand for and is backed by your actions,
    3. is aligned with the values that your target audience embraces.

    Glocalities helps to identify and clarify the key motivators of your target audience, based on 3 waves of in-depth global research into values, lifestyle, brands, sustainability, and psychology. Your brand stories will only persuade consumers to listen and act if they are authentic, sincere, and fine-tuned to what consumers find essential.


Brand driven marketing will only work and drive growth if you find the right match between what your brand represents, the values your employees embrace, and what your audience feels. For this, you need to live your purpose and at the same time be able to resonate with the drivers and values of target audiences around the world.

It all starts with values and stories to express that there's a need for your brand because it adds something worthwhile to the world beyond making money. If you reach that point and back up your words with inspiring actions, your purpose driven brand will be rewarded with success.


Martijn Lampert

Research Director

+31 20 589 83 70

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