Rick Ridgeway of Patagonia on Branding, Sustainability and Our Future
10 Resolutions for Making Purpose Your Brand’s Priority In 2016
January 15, 2016
With 2016 already in full swing, it is invaluable to take time to pause, reflect, remind and reorient our organization toward the resolutions we set forth for the year ahead. Following on the heels of a banner year for sustainability – success at COP21 and increasing consumer preference for sustainable brands to name two – purpose will be more front and center than ever. What resolutions has your brand committed to this year in making purpose a priority?
Here are ten resolutions to keep top of mind over the coming 11 months.
1. Celebrate your customers, more than yourself.
One of our core beliefs at We First is that brands should be the celebrant, not celebrity of their customer community. This becomes ever more imperative with the rise of digital and social technology providing platforms for the voice of consumers to amplify your brand further than you could alone.
2. Define your purpose as part of your DNA.
Why should the world care if you exist? What value are you adding to society? What motivates your employees and consumers to advocate for your brand? These tough questions are critical starting points for defining your brand’s purpose, particularly in a time when most consumers wouldn’t care if 74% of brands disappeared altogether.
3. State goals and challenges.
Once your purpose is defined, publically declaring it alongside measurable and tangible goals not only demonstrates commitment to external stakeholders, but also holds your feet to the fire for realizing change. However, be sure to recognize that integrating social and environmental responsibility is a journey, and there will be misalignments and challenges all the way through. Bring transparency to this process to ensure you are not being misleading in your positive intentions.
4. Position purpose as an innovation launchpad.
Internally, frame sustainability and purpose as opportunities to innovate your products and services. Avoid treating purpose as an internal mandate, but rather reward and upgrade participation through exciting and engaging touch points that align with your organizational culture.
5. Empower employees as brand advocates.
Champion employees as brand advocates’, providing them the training, platform and support needed to amplify your brand story. Invest in tools and resources that integrate purpose seamlessly into your hiring and training process, and identify key storytellers within your organization to lead others.
6. Give your customers a positive story to tell.
Beyond empowering your employees, you must also focus on empowering your customers. Start by giving them a simple and emotional story to tell about your brand. Through the use of compelling language, you can seed powerful stories for your customer community to not only share, but co-create alongside your brand.
7. Adopt one (or more) of the SDG’s.
If you’ve identified your brand’s purpose, though do not know where to start in bringing it to life in a tangible, tactical way, start by looking at the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. These globally adopted goals target 17 of the most critical issues of our time, and chances are your brand can contribute solutions to at least one of them. Evaluate where you can have the most impact in both the short and long term, and also what is important to your employee base in order to have the most resonance.
8. Make workplace purpose the new normal.
Outfitting offices with standing desks, yoga studios and on-site healthy eateries are a few of the rising workplace trends this year. Make sure to include ‘purpose’ as part of your workplace retrofitting plans, by embracing ideas from employees on how they want to bring your brand’s purpose to life – from offsite volunteering retreats to dedicated daily meditation time.
9. Do something, not nothing.
In a time where businesses are beginning to compete based on sustainability credentials, it becomes increasingly critical for your brand to be part of the conversation. Making commitments to social or environmental progress not only shows you care, but can also bring to life your brand purpose in meaningful ways.
10. Keep it light.
The days of dread and doom in relation to critical issues are over. Brands must look at these challenges as opportunities for positive progression and extend levity to both internal and external stakeholders in order to inspire engagement and participation.
Take a bit of time this month to review where you are at in your purpose journey, where you want to go and how you want to get there.