It’s Not Just a Marketing Phrase: 3 Ways to Deliver on Being a “Purpose-Driven Brand”

We’ve entered the era of purpose.

70% of employees believe it’s important to work for a business with a clear sense of purpose.  And, 54% of consumers have reduced or stopped purchasing from organisations they think missed the mark on environmental or social issues.

Additional, countless data points in our most recent State of Consumer Trends Report highlight how having a solid purpose or mission will win over today's audiences and enable you to stand out against competitors.

The last two and a half years have brought into focus what it means to be a purpose-driven company. The global pandemic disrupted supply chains and highlighted rising inequalities. The ongoing threat of climate change shifted market dynamics and investor expectations, leaving businesses realising they must act. Not to mention, the Great Resignation/Reflection proved that employees are increasingly seeking value and purpose at work.

There’s no question that driving value for stakeholders, society, and the planet is imperative. Today and in the future, we’ll see more companies start to weave purpose into their business.

But, purpose is more than a buzzword. For winning companies, purpose declares a company’s core reason for existence and its unique impact on the world. Done right, companies connect people’s individual purpose with the organizations. But, building that doesn’t come easy.

That’s why leaders iterate and evolve on a company’s purpose as they grow. At HubSpot, our purpose of building a company that future generations would be proud of serves as our roadmap to help determine which ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) initiatives we pursue to make an impact.

While we’re still early in our journey, there are three areas that I believe are key for companies to deliver on purpose: authenticity, engagement, and influence.

How to Run (& Market) Your Brand With Purpose

1. Embed purpose in a way that’s authentic to your organization

In the 2011 Black Friday edition of The New York Times, Patagonia published a bold full-page ad telling customers to not buy their jacket. Going into detail as to why, Patagonia transparently listed the factors: the jacket required 36 gallons of water to produce (enough to fill the daily needs of 45 people), emitted 20 pounds of carbon dioxide (24 times the weight of the jacket), and produced two-thirds of its weight in waste.

Source: Patagonia, The New York Times

It's not just about simply stating that you have a purpose. Authentic purpose-driven companies “walk the walk” by being transparent, accountable, and authentic in everything they do. Patagonia’s campaign resonated with so many because it had a powerful message without sacrificing their purpose of being in business to save our home planet.

To truly drive change, purpose must be rooted in authenticity. Without authenticity, purpose falls flat and leads to distrust and confusion.

That’s why at HubSpot, we walk the walk before we talk the talk. Everything from our business decisions, our action plan around Black Lives Matter, and where we’re falling short is communicated clearly to our employees before it’s shared externally. Companies can lead with authenticity by ensuring their purpose reflects the company’s core values, continually reinforcing how employees are contributing to purpose, and committing real action to deliver on that purpose.  

2. Engage employees to activate their purpose

Before you even consider marketing around your purpose, you'll want to engrain it within the work you do.

According to Mckinsey & Company, 70% of employees feel that their sense of purpose in life is defined by their work, indicating that an organisation's purpose can be a strong influence on an individual's sense of worth.  

At a time when people are looking to derive meaning from their work, it’s important to continually reinforce how and why employees can contribute to making an impact.

One way to engage employees is by communicating not only the company’s actions, but also what employees can do to get involved.

For Earth Day this year, members of our Eco@HubSpot employee interest resource group participated in a Slack event called the Growing Greener Challenge, where they received one easy action each day to help invest in our planet.

 For each completed action, HubSpot donated to the Global Greengrants Fund (GGF). Collectively, HubSpotters took 1,306 actions – including buying local foods with a low carbon footprint, unplugging appliances not in use and repurposing items that would normally be thrown away - raising over $9,000 for the GGF.

It’s also important to set the tone at the top, and create an environment where employees feel comfortable living their purpose at work. As part of our twice-a-year performance reviews, all employees, including executive leadership, are asked to share how they are prioritizing diversity, inclusion, and belonging -- a core part of our mission -- in their work.

And at every company meeting, we take time to recognize HubSpotters who embody an aspect of our core values, which helps to inspire a sense of purpose across the business.

3. Consider your influencing role in purpose.

Purpose shouldn’t live in a vacuum. Part of being a responsible, purpose-driven company is not only creating value for your own company, but for others within your larger ecosystem. This can include your customers, suppliers, and even your customers’ customers.

As pressure continues to build for companies to meet regulatory demands and take action on climate change, suppliers will be expected to do more than just deliver product. They’ll be asked in detail about what it means to be a responsible business.

Recently, I’ve been engaging with our customers to understand the sustainability issues they care about and how we may be able to collaborate. The feedback is clear: they have a real appetite for more transparency into what we’re doing, and want to join us on our journey. With over 135,000 customers across more than 120 countries, it would be irresponsible not to recognize the tremendous potential we have for impact. Getting a good grasp of and investing in this multiplier effect is key to success.

As we gear up for a new year, we’re asking ourselves how our ESG efforts connect with HubSpot’s mission, purpose, and core values. We have made good progress but still have a way to go and more to learn, but by leading with authenticity, engaging our employees, and considering our influencer role, we’ll continue to make progress on our authentic purpose to build a company that future generations can be proud of.

What's Your Purpose?

Purpose isn't just something you can mention in a marketing campaign.

Ultimately, your purpose is like a promise that you're making to your audiences and employees. Make it thoughtful, actionable, and intentional.

Now that you've learned how to truly embrace your purpose, it's time for you to decide what that brand purpose will be.

To learn more about how mission and purpose impacts your audiences, customers, and employees today, check out our State of Consumer Trends Report below.

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