Purpose-Driven Branding: Buzzword or Fundamental Trend?

Jul 08, 2014


Roundtable Branding Horiz

A thriving body of recent consumer research supports the notion that purpose-driven branding is here to stay. It’s taking off at the local level, while at the same time major brands are placing big bets on it.

In the dissent, there is a chorus casting it as merely a branding fad.

This month, Branding Magazine convened thought leaders for a discussion on the purpose-driven branding movement. I participated, along with a diverse group that provided keen insights on purpose: Carole Cone, Global Practice Chair of Social+Purpose for Edelman; Tom Adams, Global Strategy Director for FutureBrand; and Mick McCabe, Chief Strategy Officer of Leo Burnett USA.

Branding magazine contributing editor Chuck Kent oversaw the roundtable. He pursued a wide line of questioning, starting by seeking to define purpose relative to brands, and then diving into its tangible benefits and the obstacles to executing purpose-driven brands, among others.

Roundtable members expressed common sentiments around the validity of purpose-driven branding as a core business practice, as well as differing – and entertaining – perspectives as to its meaning and implementation.

A few highlights:

“We think many people are still stuck in a mindset of ‘purpose = our CSR initiative or cause marketing campaign.’”
–Carol Cone, Edelman

“For purpose to be meaningful it has to start at the organizational level…”
–Tom Adams, FutureBrand

“The placing of purpose in the context of its times makes it magnetic.”
–Mick McCabe, Leo Burnett USA

The full roundtable interview will benefit a seasoned corporate social responsibility practitioner or a brand manager looking to understand the underpinnings of this movement. I know the observations of my colleagues sparked some new thinking by me.

The roundtable is available as a free eBook provided by Branding Magazine. You can access it here.

We publish regularly on this topic. To learn more about purpose-driven consumers and branding, be sure to subscribe to our e-news insights.

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