min read

Social Purpose: What’s Working for Brands that Are Doing It Well

Purpose-driven brands excel with authentic narratives, integrating social impact into identities for genuine marketing. Avoiding purpose-washing, they use storytelling techniques to inspire meaningful impact across platforms.

Delving into purpose-driven brand narratives unveils a shared foundation of core traits that anchor authenticity, positive reception, and storytelling effectiveness. Building on our earlier discussion in "Social Purpose & Profits: Who’s Balancing Both Well," where we explored the synergy between making a positive impact and excelling in business, below, we examine essential strategies for ensuring success in your pursuit of purpose-driven storytelling.

Rooted in the Business Model

Leading purpose-driven brands, such as Warby Parker bake social impact into their core business models and brand identities rather than treating it as an add-on.  Their success shows that purpose and profitability can be mutually reinforcing when social commitment is authentic and aligned with the brand.

Built into the Brand’s Essence

Top purpose-driven brands, such as Varo Bank embed social purpose into every touch point –with the customers, investors, employees, partners, and stakeholders. It is at the heart of their operations and culture while balancing continued growth and profitability. For them, social good is not just marketing but an integral part of how they deliver value. 

Responsible vs Performative Purpose

Authentic purpose-driven marketing commits to positive change, weaving social purpose into core operations and culture. Brands such as Ben & Jerry’s integrate social good into products, policies, and processes for enduring impact. In contrast, performative marketing exploits social causes superficially, lacking true commitment. It engages in purpose-washing, making hollow declarations without operational change. Authentic purpose-driven marketing aligns profit with a meaningful purpose, driving real change. Conversely, performative marketing prioritizes profit, offering lip service through shallow promotions without systemic commitment. What distinguishes genuine purpose brands? Authenticity, integrity, and tangible social impact.

Creativity: World Class Storytelling

Leading brands in social purpose leverage cutting-edge marketing, shunning the perception of charity or low-budget efforts. Armed with the latest tools—multi-platform storytelling, short-form videos, original podcasts, and immersive experiences—these innovators apply top-tier strategies to social purpose. One example is JP Morgan’s Zone-In podcast, which teaches student-athletes how to manage earnings from NIL (name, image likeness). Purpose is seamlessly woven into high-quality storytelling, evoking emotions, and authenticity. Instead of preaching or virtue signaling, they aim to inspire, uplift, and entertain while subtly conveying values. This commitment transcends mere video content, extending to real initiatives that drive impact. The outcome? Purpose marketing that resonates powerfully.

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