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Stand Up and Stand Apart

There are three purposes upon which a business can build a brand. These include:

  • Profit – an expression of purpose for the benefit of the business owners and shareholders.
  • Promise – an expression of purpose for the benefit of customers through the sale of products and services.
  • Planet – an expression of purpose for the benefit of humanity.

Research shows that businesses which embrace a higher, planet-led purpose, beyond their profit-making and brand promise purposes, can give themselves a competitive edge and drive a more favourable reputation.

A global survey of business executives conducted in 2015 by Harvard Business Review Analytic Services and EY Beacon Institute found that those companies that clearly identified their purpose as ‘an aspirational reason for being which inspires and provides a call to action for an organisation and its partners and stakeholders, and provides benefit to local and global society’1 enjoyed higher growth rates and higher levels of success in transformation and innovation initiatives. They also reported that their customers were more loyal and their employees more engaged.

Enduring great companies don’t exist merely to deliver returns to shareholders. Indeed, in a truly great company, profits and cashflow become like blood and water to a healthy body; they are absolutely essential for life, but they are not the very point of life.

 Jim Collins, co-author of Built to Last and author of Good to Great

In conducting research for his book Good to Great, Jim Collins2 found that a vital dimension for a good company to make the leap to become a great company was a core ideology, consisting of core values and a core purpose; a reason for being beyond just making money.

While it’s a fundamental reality that businesses have a purpose to make profits and deliver on their promise to customers, the opportunity and challenge for business leaders of today is to embrace the power of a higher, planet-led purpose as a way of connecting more deeply with customers, driving greater organisational performance and shaping reputation.

And you don’t need to be a big brand like Dove, Patagonia or The Body Shop to embrace a higher purpose and make an impact.

One of my favourite small businesses – L&D Picturesque Painting based in Melbourne – is making an impact through an inspiring planet-led purpose.

While this female-owned and operated business is renowned for its punctual and precise painting prowess, they’re also trailblazing a new path for women in trade industries by helping create a world where females are empowered, encouraged, and full of confidence to get out there and give it a go. That’s why they’ve committed to ‘empowering women to shake the mould’, leading by example and being positive role models for women in a traditionally male-dominated industry.

When businesses embrace a higher purpose beyond making money, they can make a stronger emotional connection with their target audiences – customers will more clearly understand what they stand for as a brand and employees will more readily be able to answer the question ‘why am I here?’.

©Ros Weadman 2022


1Harvard Business Review, The Business Case for Purpose, EY Beacon Institute, 2015, viewed 2 January 2018, < http://www.ey.com/Publication/vwLUAssets/ey-the-business-case-for-purpose/$FILE/ey-the-business-case-for-purpose.pdf>.  

2Jim Collins. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…and Others Don’t, Random House, London 2001, p. 194

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