The future of brand is purpose

The future of brand is purpose

With each passing day, the power of consumers grows exponentially. Why? Because they’re savvier then ever. Sharing information is now as easy as breathing, and consumers are doing their research. Which means brands can no longer hide their actions behind a PR smokescreen. One way or another, the values a brand represents will become known, and consumers will make their decisions accordingly. This is especially true for millennials: 95% would switch their current brand for one associated with a good cause. Translation: people won’t buy from you just because of your great products and services. They need more. They need a reason to choose you.

That’s why companies like Tesla succeed. They have a clear mission. In Tesla’s case it’s changing the automotive world, and promoting the transition to a fossil-free future. 

How do you drive real change?

In collaboration with the business consultancy Milega and the interior decorating company Senab, we recently held a seminar on how to drive real change through design. Our guest speaker Sille Krukow, a world-renowned behavioral design expert, Ted-talker and Formula 1 spokesperson, discussed the need for companies to work for a purpose rather than a profit.

“The brands that will be successful in the future are the ones who will help their end users stay responsible, sustainable, healthy and safe. Companies that do not start to move in this direction will start to fall behind,” she said.

This is a crucial insight, since half of all current Fortune 500 companies are expected to disappear in 5–10 years.

Making the right choice the easy one

According to Sille, the problem is complexity. We live in a turbocharged modern world that bombards us constantly with stimuli, but our decision-making processes haven’t evolved much since life on the savanna. Indeed, around 90% of the decisions we make are automatic rather than reflective – we’re not nearly as rational as we’d like to believe we are. In reality, this means that although we would like to do what’s right, we often do what’s easiest instead.

Brands that drive change and make it easier to do the right thing quickly become the “right” choice themselves – both to buy from and to work for. And that comes back to values – a clearly articulated purpose is a serious advantage, and the bigger brands know it. Consider, for example, Heineken’s work against drunk driving (which Sille is involved in) and L’Oreal Global, who have set a goal to be 100% sustainable by 2020.

Designing purpose-driven behavior

 Sille and her team use design to drive short and long-term behavioral change, applying an evidence-based methodology combining insights from cognitive psychology, behavioral economics, applied behavioral science and design. And they’ve delivered some impressive results. In one experiment, her team discovered that they could significantly reduce litter simply by painting green footprints on the street leading to the nearest trashcan (littering was reduced by 45%). But no matter how big or small the solution, their work is always purpose-driven. Because purpose, as Sille has noted, drives performance.


In sum: if you want to strengthen your company’s brand, start by looking at its purpose. Ask yourself if that purpose is authentic and in line with its vision, mission and core values. And then build on it. The rewards of success will be a truer connection with your audiences, and the kind of loyalty that lasts not just today and tomorrow, but far into the future. 

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