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Pursuing purpose with authenticity – a Cannes conversation

In Cannes this year, I am asking the question, how does a brand remain authentic in its pursuit of purpose? And how do you know where you have the right to play?

In the age of rapid change and digital disruption, transparency between brands and their audiences is increasingly important. Couple that with the fact that people are feeling socially conscious and are looking for a company that reflects their values, and the pressure to deliver brand value is far greater than ever before. This pressure is felt throughout the business, implicating sourcing, supply chain management, customer experience strategies and ultimately advertising and marketing.
 
People are aligning themselves with brands that share their values and aspire to a greater purpose beyond their product. Nielsen found that 66 per cent of consumers will pay more for products and services from companies that have committed to make a positive social and environmental impact.1
 
In many cases, a product or service alone is no longer sufficient in attracting and keeping your customers. People want brands to define and contribute towards a higher mission – one that sees the company innovate or use its force for good in a committed, authentic way.  

There are two fundamental elements to establishing what is the right mission for your brand; firstly, is it true to your company’s DNA and values? Secondly, can you commit to driving genuine change - supporting the cause throughout the business and making a difference in the wider community? 
 
When thinking about the areas in which your brand has a right to play, you must also consider the diversity surrounding the brand, both inside and out. This extension of the brand should empower the people involved. Not only those driving conception, strategy, and communication vehicles - but more importantly with the people for whom it makes a tangible difference around the world.
 
In my opinion, purpose driven brands are not an option anymore. With private companies putting their force to the test when it comes to marking genuine change – through product innovation, informing government policies and more – people will expect no less. The Guardian reported in a May 2015 article that people spend 46 per cent more on brands that invest time and effort in connecting with customers in a meaningful way. And globally, two in three people (67%) would prefer to work for a socially responsible company.2
 
The pursuit of authentic purpose is not just a marketing problem, it’s a business wide journey of discovery that will continue to impact the success of a brand. People know they could do more to give back to society and the world we live in. Making conscientious decisions about where to shop, who to shop from, or even who to work for is a quick and easy way to make just a small difference. Spreading the word about what your brand stands for through authentic communications gives people something to buy into, making you an easy choice.
 

1. Based on Nielsen Global Survey of Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability Report, 10 December, 2015
2. Based on The Guardian Sustainable Business article, 1 May, 2015