MONDAY 12 SEP 2016 4:20 PM


How good is your brand purpose? So asked London-based creative branding agency, The Team, in a panel event designed to help business leaders truly understand why brands, in the contemporary world, should create a wider positive social impact.

Held on 5 September, International Day of Charity, The Team, along with a selection of panelists, highlighted how charitable feats are no longer consigned to the charitable sector.

In an unprecedented feat, The Team also took on the challenge of collating the content generated during the event into a book. Centering on how brands must develop a wider purpose in a sector traditionally driven by profit, the book - named 'How good is your brand purpose' - also includes quotes from the night's panelists.

This includes Ecover’s captain planet, Saskia Van Gendt, director of Charity Comms, Vicky Browning, The Big Lottery Fund’s chief of staff, Danny Homan and Anthony Newman, the director of brand, marketing and communications at Cancer Research UK.

Imposing a 48-hour time limit on the process, The Team focus on the concept of meaningful brands in a corporate world increasingly measured by reputation. A main theme present both during the event and in the publication is the sense of brand transformation – a purpose transforms a brand, and elevates it above those which exist only to generate profit.

Anthony Newman, director of brand, marketing and communications for Cancer Research UK, says, “A brand purpose matters (if you get it right) because it can lift you up above your competition, not just at a marketing communications level but in the very activity of the organisation. It’s obviously not enough for your purpose to be to make money – that applies to almost every commercial org. a great, unique, truly believed-in purpose has the ability to transform a brand – consider Volvo, Dove, Persil and of course Apple.”

Purpose not only gives brands a clearer sense of self; it drives employees to create more meaningful content. In book, Cliff Ettridge, director of The Team, describes his experience under Anita Roddick, founder of the Body Shop. In the face of opposition, her approach diversified a market saturated with corporate values and no social impact.

Ettridge says, “Long before Google trumpeted ‘Don’t be evil’ as part of its corporate motto, firms like The Body Shop and Lush were creating business models dedicated to the pursuit of social and environmental change. But the value of a business’ purpose is truly bought into perspective and gets tested when it’s attacked. It’s at points like these that we discover how far the genuine purpose of an organisation lives in the hearts and minds of employees.”

Given the commitment The Body Shop showed, and continues to show, to its employees, the communities from which it sources, and local communities where it creates jobs, there was unsurprisingly a backlash. The core of the business was founded on transparency and accessibility – and, for Ettridge, this is what made the difference when unfounded bad press emerged. “For employees, purpose goes way beyond the grand and important claims. It affects every deed and action – the micro-elements of culture as well as the macro-actions delivered for customers. Purpose is everything. Purpose is lived every day.”

Purpose also provides impetus for financial stakeholders to become more actively engaged with the internal brand values. Clearly defined goals which extend beyond generating profit engage customers, add value to the brand and ultimately make investment more appealing.

Mark Rose, brand communications at BP, says, “Brand purpose matters in business today because society has never had such a powerful voice and ability to tell brands what they expect of them.” Perhaps for the first time ever, it matters more what society as a whole thinks of a brand than its stakeholders – purpose adds a new dimension to this relationship, whereby its lack of presence can lose profit in a way perhaps unprecedented even a few years ago.

Brand strategy director for The Team, Dan Dufour, says, “People want to engage with – and work for – brands that make a positive social impact. The charity sector is suffering a crisis of public trust. While businesses are closing the trust gap by building purpose into their strategies, from Unilever and Patagonia to B Corporation Ella’s Kitchen. TOMS Social Entrepreneurship Fund is encouraging more to do the same globally. We’re looking forward to encouraging more brands to define their purpose and bring it to life, inside and out, on the night and via a new book on the era of brand purpose.”

With the art of ‘doing good’ no longer limited to charities, organisations from every sector are seeing benefits of a purposeful approach across all facets of their corporate strategies. Positive social impact is not just a trend – it’s become a way of doing business.

For further information, contact Fiona Magill at