We know from data that brands need to operate from a purpose-driven approach. Here are a few thoughts on out to do it.
November 07, 2023
Hey guys, welcome to another edition of Observations, written back in Stockholm during an intense week of speaking engagements and events.
If you are in town this week, don’t miss the first edition of Virtual Creatives Live at the Lynk & Co showroom in Stockholm on Wednesday night. I will interview the brilliant 3D visualiser and Scandinavian MIND contributor Katarina Håkansson. Sign up here.
Also: I will be at Borås Textile Days next week and look forward to networking with leaders within fashion, tech, and academia. Let me know if you are around.
The purpose of purpose
I’ve been thinking a lot about purpose lately, and how it relates to my core competence – writing and storytelling. The exercise is part self-centred and part business-oriented. I’ve been trying to sharpen my focus and more clearly define what to put my energy on. But it’s also because I’m working on a new lecture on purpose-driven storytelling.
At the beginning of this year, I decided to conduct Peter Diamandis’ 10-day exercise to define what he called my “Massive Transformative Purpose”. Naturally, it was a very Silicon Valley-esqe endeavour in its ambition to think big (“moonshots”) but it was actually pretty useful.
After having done the 10-day stint, I ended up with this sentence:
“To guide the fashion and lifestyle industries to become inspired about transforming towards sustainability.”
It still holds up I think, and it aligns well with what we want to achieve with Scandinavian MIND: our content, our conferences, and even the work we do as advisors to brands in the industry.
We know from data that brands need to operate from a purpose-driven approach. Research shows time and time again that consumers resonate more with brands with a clearly defined purpose beyond their product offering, with Nike and Patagonia as the primary examples.
They are of course great case studies, but they can also be hard to model from, as they have become such an intrinsic part of the culture. How can you play catch-up with a brand that has been doing purpose-driven marketing consistently for 40 years?
I guess you can’t. What you can do is start acting consistently from your own vantage point.
There have been many examples of brands that have come out of the Nordics in recent years that have managed to create authentic and powerful messaging around sustainability and responsibility, while at the same time being commercially successful. Swedish ASKET, with its Impact Receipt, and Danish GANNI, with its no-nonsense sustainability reports, are two great examples.
They are also two examples of brands that not only have found a clever way of communicating purpose-driven messages, but also are backing up their claims with actual, operational action.
One simple framework could be this:
1. Define your purpose. This is the hard part and might take time if you are working for an already-running business.
2. Find the stories that resonate with that purpose. These stories can be about work that you do yourself, or people you support or collaborate with, for example.
3. Take every chance to tell that story. Take every interaction, every post, every e-mail, and every label as a chance to promote your key messages and stories.
4. Find ways to feed your community with these stories. This is particularly important. Getting your stories told by others is the most powerful proof that your purpose resonates with your audience.
As Céline Semaan, Founder at Slow Factory Foundation, said in Highsnobiety’s report Luxury 3.0:
“Communities don’t exist in a vacuum. That’s an important point. Communities don’t belong to brands. Communities exist independently of brands. Communities don’t need brands. Brands need communities. To begin with, communities exist around interests. It’s up to the brands to bridge the gap between their values and their actions by meeting these interests.”
To iterate: Brands need to bridge the gap between their values and their actions.
Having a clearly defined purpose, and a strong storytelling process, is a great start.