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Purpose-Driven Brands: What Are They & How to Build One

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Brands that are driven by purpose typically perform better than their competitors who do not use the company morals as the driving force of the brand. This is because brands with cause typically run more efficiently, decisions are much easier and happen faster, they attract investors, and they inspire innovation as well as having a more loyal customer base.

Purpose driven branding is a concept that is used by brands whose company mission is integral to its identity. This means that the core principles and the company purpose are intertwined with the way that the product is marketed and branded.

The product exists to solve a need within society. While this is typically how new and innovative products reach the market, (we have bread knives because of our need to cut bread for example) purpose driven products will typically aim to fulfill the moral need that their company mission is based around.

This is beneficial not just for the wider society but also ensuring the company works efficiently and customers stay loyal. Everything from the visual story to the mission and the way that the company makes decisions should be centered around the purpose that drives the branding.

A book about brand identity sitting on a desk next to a computer and keyboard.

Purpose-Driven Branding vs. Cause Marketing

Purpose driven brands are brands who incorporate their ethical and moral beliefs into the essence of their business. From the way that the office operates to the value that the company offers to their clients, the way decisions are made, and the long term goals of the business- everything revolves around the greater purpose of the brand.

This differs from cause marketing, as cause marketing is typically secondary to the greater principles of a brand. In some cases, cause marketing is even added as an afterthought or as a response to a changing world that demands a moral stand be taken by corporations and small businesses alike.

Purpose driven branding is woven into the fabric of everything the company does and it helps to drive the direction of the company. Put simply, purpose driven branding is for brands with a cause that surrounds the core values of the business. Cause marketing is a marketing tactic employed after the fact and separate to the core values of the business.

Benefits of Purpose-Driven Branding

One of the reasons why purpose driven branding has become so popular is because increasingly consumers are becoming more socially conscious of issues. As many as 60% of consumers prefer to buy from brands they are ethically aligned to.

From social justice like the Black Lives Matter and Me Too movements, to environmental problems like global warming and the reduction of your carbon footprint, people have never been more aware of the issues around them as they are right now.

This matters to purpose driven branding because more than ever consumers feel one of the ways they can make an active difference to the causes they believe in is through the brands they align themselves with.

If consumers are driven towards brands that support a purpose, it naturally follows that mission driven companies see higher profit margins. In fact, from 2006 to 2016, purpose driven brands actually outperformed the market by 206%, alongside a 176% increase in KPIs.

With 78% of Americans saying they would tell their friends and families to buy from a purpose driven brand, and 66% saying they would switch from a product they normally buy in favor of a purpose driven brand it's not hard to see how a company who wears its moral values on its sleeve would surpass competitors.

It's clear that consumers are more than willing to shop around for brands they believe in, and they are also more likely to have loyalty to said brands. 79% of Americans say they are more loyal to purpose driven brands, and 70% say they are proud to be associated with brands they believe in. To top it off, 73% say they would actively defend brands they believe in if someone they knew were to talk badly about said brand.

This kind of brand loyalty is invaluable. If your customers are actively willing to speak out on your company's behalf then the chances are high that they will not only continue purchasing and trying out your products, they will also recommend your brand to their loved ones.

The kind of competitive advantage that you can achieve by having a purpose driven brand is not something that can be overlooked. It's abundantly clear that consumers know what they want, and they want to support the causes that they believe in.

Even as we look past consumers, employees are more likely to seek out and stay in jobs that they believe in and agree with the principles of. In fact, a staggering 94% of millennials say that it is important or critical that the company they work for is ethical, and 84% would rather work for an ethical company even if it meant taking a pay cut.

Without question, it's clear that if brands want to attract and keep top talent, their ethical standing is extremely important. It's also clear that to attract and keep a loyal customer base, having a strong ethical standpoint is a fantastic way to do so.

The benefits of purpose driven branding are obvious, but who is already doing it right?

Examples of Purpose-Driven Branding

Here are a few well-known examples of purpose-driven branding in action:


There was a time when the Dove brand worked the same way as other beauty products. Sharing the message to consumers that they too, could be beautiful as long as they used the right shampoo, right soaps, and so on.

But, Dove shifted. Somewhere along the way they realized the beauty standards set by the media were growing out of control, and it was becoming a serious problem. So, Doves core values changed, along with their business model and their brand mission.

It began with a consumer survey, spanning 10 countries and interviewing over 3000 women. Less than 5% believed themselves to be beautiful which saw the launch of the “Campaign for Real Beauty”. This turned out to be a landmark switch, paving the way for the change from product led advertising to consumer led advertising.

The advert itself was displayed on a billboard, showing normal women and asked people to vote things like “fat or fab” with real time results displayed. The campaign was a huge success and today Dove hardly mentions their products in their adverts- focusing instead on positive body image.

Of course, making women feel good about themselves and smashing through cultural beauty norms is great. What is also great is the incredible response that Dove has seen since their switch to consumer focused branding.

With almost unquantifiable exposure, millions of youtube hits on their ads, and a $1.5 billion dollar increase in sales over the first ten years of the campaign, there’s plenty to be happy about in Dove’s books.

Ben & Jerry's

Ice cream moguls they may be- but did you know that Ben and Jerry’s also make huge social and environmental contributions? You probably did- and that’s why they are an example of a great brand mission. Social purpose is woven into the business model of Ben and Jerrys, and that attracts purpose driven consumers.

In fact, Ben and Jerry's have been fighting for social change since before the buzzwords - and they stride far past cause marketing and philanthropy. From a self imposed ban on selling ice cream in occupied Palestine, to a carefully curated supply chain, Ben and Jerry’s isn’t afraid to voice their opinion, and they’re also not afraid (or offended) if you don’t agree with them.

Their social mission statement is short, simple, and there’s little room for hiding behind vagueness: “Our social mission compels us to use our company in innovative ways to make the world a better place”.

Their social contributions are numerous and focus on long projects as well as current events. They took an active stance during Black Lives Matter protests as early as 2016, publishing articles about systemic racism and following through by laying out a four stage action plan to help dismantle white supremacy.

They use their ice cream as incentives for people to vote, encouraging consumers to magnify their voice and use their rights to vote. So not only are they known for being extremely vocal over humanitarian issues and social issues, they encourage others to do the same.

Brands that have core values that they are not afraid to share helps to attract and maintain a loyal customer base. Ben and Jerry’s all in attitude certainly helps them to differentiate themselves from the market, improve recognition, and brand trustability.

A pencil drawing of a question mark in a circle.

How to Become a Purpose-Driven Brand

Becoming a purpose driven brand requires a considerable amount of effort, but the payoff makes the change more than worth it. Below are some easy steps you can take to make your business a purpose driven one.

1. Be Clear About Your Purpose

To be driven by a purpose, you must know with complete certainty what your purpose is. This will help you to make decisions faster and it generally results in a more coherent and understandable business plan.

2. Be Relatable

While you may have a product that could change the world, potential customers need to be able to understand why your product is the better choice- both for them and for the world around them.

3. Lead By Example

One of the reasons that purpose driven businesses are successful is because the mission resonates with people, the causes are very personal. Lead your business by personal example and understand why your purpose is so important to your customers.

If you lead by example and are genuine in your efforts, that will shine through to your employees and customers alike.

4. Harness Motivation

For any successful business, the key is to keep the whole team motivated to the cause. A business approach that sees every member of the team motivated to work, and even perhaps to work for a cause greater than the business itself, is a very powerful tool to have.

5. Focus on Your Core

Whatever your business’s purpose is, if you want to be a purpose driven brand you need to make your cause the very core of your business and practices. Everything needs to surround the mission- so focus on it.

The ‘why’ of it all needs to be at the forefront of your mind during every decision, every discussion, and every aspect of the business. Your core principles are the foundation of the business, so keep them in mind at all times.

6. Hire the Right Staff

Getting staff who believe in your mission will be a key part of keeping them motivated at work, and the increased passion and drive seen in the workplace will help to motivate other members of the team as well as doing the job and doing it well.

Successful brands come from hard working staff, and hard working staff are attracted to businesses who they morally agree with.

7. Publicize Your Purpose

If you don’t share why you are doing what you are doing, how will anyone know? Publicize who you are and why your product or service is superior, and what it does to help people. Sharing who you are will allow people to discover you, and sharing a video about your business will help them to tell their friends about you.


There are many ways to fight for progress, and purpose driven brands do most of them. Define who you are, centralize it in your business’s core values, and share it with the world. Purpose driven brands are the future, so beat the curve and work towards a better future together.

For help in publicizing your brand and its values, get in contact with Prodigium Pictures today and find out just how we can help you and your brand become the best you can be.

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August 19, 2022
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