How can Brands help Change the World?

Have you ever woken up and asked yourself what you are doing with your life, what difference are you making to the world? If you have, then chances are you are not alone. People everywhere are looking to live a more meaningful life. Merely paying bills and waiting for the weekend is out of vogue and making the most of every minute and opportunity is in.

We’ve seen a definite shift in young peoples’ ambitions from big industry and paychecks to endeavours that make the individual feel a sense of purpose and achievement- no matter how small. At the end of the day, for young people it’s happiness that equals success, above more traditional status symbols. Additionally, young people are seeking out brands that have a social purpose ingrained in their branding – with Lush, innocent and Toms consistently name-checked during our research.

So as businesses, what can we do to attract and retain talent that is no longer satisfied solely by job title or pay package?

Let’s start, as always, with the audience and their needs- what is the cause of this phenomenon? Young people today don’t feel they have the power themselves to make any big global or societal changes. They are disillusioned with traditional institutions and are therefore looking to brands to make the changes they want to see. This extends to the businesses they want to work for, too.As a business, your job is as simple as to facilitate this and a key facet of this is adding a social good dimension to your offering. Be the hero young people want to see in the world. Have a social purpose that is bigger than you are, that tackles a genuine need in the world and creates blue water between you and your competitors - then watch the impact it has on your talent and your bottom line.

It is true that not every business can be a ‘Tom’s’, whose social mission is actually part of the business model. But we would argue that there’s more than one way to skin a cat.

The key is to tap into a genuine cause, desire or need in a way that feels authentic to your brand. This is more than CSR [Corporate Social Responsibility]; you are essentially making a statement about your contribution to society. If your brand disappeared tomorrow, what legacy would you leave?

Sooner or later, brands without Social Purposes will be the ones in the minority. We know companies with social purposes baked into the DNA of the brand do better financially than those who don’t. Just look at Unilever’s performance once social missions became one of their core growth philosophies. Essentially, research shows the significant positive relationship between Corporate Social Responsibility and firm’s financial performance and shareholders wealth.

The brands we love most and the work we get most excited about all have one thing in common, they make the world a better place. Honey Maid’s ‘Wholesome’ campaign put them firmly into a controversial conversation about what is actually wholesome when it comes to families and created a world of new fans for a brand with previously very little consideration.

Giving young people a reason other than a paycheck to go to work is not only fills a need in them to make a positive contribution to society but can also do wonders for your business.