A purpose driven company has a broader mission beyond just offering a product or service. It fully addresses any potential social or environmental impact within its business model.
It’s not always the case but most often the purpose driven initiative is something that originates from the very top of an organisation. It tends to come from a leader that places an emphasis on their values and purpose when making any company decision. This is referred to as purpose driven leadership.
Purpose driven companies are not to be confused with not-for-profits or charities. However, they can very much be a for-profit company. They just aim to build their purpose into all of their processes.
If they sell a product for example, and their purpose is aligned with the environment and sustainability, then they would ensure they pick sustainable manufacturing supplies, that their end product was recyclable and that they used an electric fleet for their logistics.
Let’s take a further look at what makes a purpose driven company along with why it matters for your business.
The Benefits Of Being A Purpose Driven Company
There are huge benefits to being a purpose driven company, both culturally and competitively.
Culturally, it is much easier and appears more powerful to have a team aligned around a purpose driven vision, rather than say a quarterly fiscal target. A companies’ purpose can also quite often extend beyond the workplace. If you have a purpose that aligns with an individuals personal values, you’ll be in a position to attract employees that bring a passion to their work that can be hard to replicate.
There is also a huge competitive advantage to being purpose driven. Products, features, and services can all be replicated. Passion for a cause cannot. A purpose makes you more distinct than any feature of a product or service could.
Further to this, there is a danger for business to inauthentically use a cause in an aim to appear purpose driven. Consumers today are too educated and can see through this, so it does more harm to a brand than good.
Examples Of Purpose Driven Companies
Patagonia is probably one of the clearest example of a purpose driven brand. They are so well associated with their purpose, that when their name is mentioned you can tend to think of the purpose before you think of their product.
They have always been known for being environmentally conscious and have a clear purpose driven mission that “Patagonia is in business to save our home planet.”
They are a great example of a company who makes profit but goes far beyond being ‘profit driven’. In fact, since 1985 they have been donating 1% of sales to causes that protect the natural environment and have given over one hundred million dollars worth of donations to environmental groups.
That said, a companies’ purpose doesn’t need to just be related to the environment, as there are lots of companies who are driven by social purpose.
Dove is one of the most well known brands who are driven by a social cause. They advocate for women to redefine beauty in the 21st century.
In the not too distant past, Dove was just like most other cosmetic brands. Their marketing focused on their products and how the products will make the consumer beautiful. However, in 2004 a global study was released and some of the findings were quite shocking:
- Only 4% of women globally consider themselves beautiful.
- 54% agreed that when it comes to how they look, they are their own worst beauty critic.
Dove decided this was a narrative they didn’t want to feed into. Since then Dove has completely changed how they communicate with their customers. They launched their ‘Campaign for Real Beauty’ and it has almost become the case study for purpose driven marketing.
The ads feature images of real, diverse women and and reinforced the beauty of a ‘realistic’ body type. The campaign was a huge success for Dove and is still referred as one of the most powerful marketing campaigns of all time.
It’s a perfect example of a company’s purpose being front and centre in the way they communicate to their consumers. However you don’t need to be a huge corporation to be purpose driven, there are great examples of smaller businesses and start ups who have also been built from the ground up with purpose.
The GoodNet are a technology platform recently founded with the aim is to drive positive consumer behaviour change in the world. Their goal is to help brands and publishers inspire people to live greener, healthier, and more socially positive lives.
They are doing this by bringing a new approach to an established technology – ad networks.
Ad networks are a way for brands to access a network of websites that they can run their digital ads across. The GoodNet feel that advertising is so impactful that it has a really important role to play in doing good in the world.
Through their ad network, The GoodNet help brands reach a scaled, engaged audience of ethically-minded people. This audience will be reading content on the websites within the ad network, actively looking for ways to live a healthier and more sustainable way. If this audience then respond the the brand’s ads at scale, buy more ethical products and change to live a more sustainable way, that has a tangible impact on the world we live in.
Another important benefit of their network is that more advertiser spend goes towards publishers that produce great content on how people can living a greener life. This gives the publishers the funding to produce more content and influence wider positive behaviour through their work.
More purpose driven technology companies like The GoodNet are starting to emerge now as founders start to realise how quickly and impactful this channel can contribute towards a better world.
EcoSend is another example of a technology platform driven to do good. In the past, there was a misconception that digital products were good for the planet. Being ‘bad for the planet’ tended to be associated with physical products, like paper.
A lot of people may remember, or may even still see, a message at the bottom of an email they received that said ‘Please think of the environment before printing this email.’ While the message had the right intention of trying to prevent people from unnecessarily using paper, it also masked another problem, that digital channels like email can contribute to climate change.
EcoSend is a carbon-conscious email marketing platform that aims to reduce the impact of one of the most overused digital channels, email, on climate change. Email has always been considered a free channel to reach an audience and has been used as such with over 320 billion emails sent every day. The energy required to compose, send, and store all of these emails has a tangible cost to the environment, with anywhere from 4g – 50g of carbon emissions generated per email.
EcoSend tackle this problem on two fronts. Firstly, by offering a platform to help users send less email, through advanced segmentation and multiple channel messaging, like on-site messaging. Secondly by investing in carbon offsetting initiatives to ensure any co2 emissions generated from being emails sent are being addressed. The result being better, more targeted, and effective campaigns for marketers while mitigating the campaigns have on the environment.
How To Become A Purpose Driven Company
The great thing about being purpose driven is that you can incorporate this into your business at any point. The above examples showed both established companies who found a cause that they aligned with, then shifted their model subsequently and companies with their purpose built in from the beginning.
If there is a cause you feel passionate about then it’s always the right time to incorporate those values into your business. Having more companies who are driven by social and environmental causes rather than just profits creates a better world for all of us. The more purpose driven companies that exist, the better.