Brands Gather in Chicago to Talk Purpose, Impact

Why does your brand exist? What problem does it solve? How can it make someone’s life better? Brands that successfully address these questions will lead their respective industries in the coming years and decades.

For a business, profit keeps the lights on but purpose makes it all matter. A clear sense of purpose can demonstrate to employees why they get up for work every day and can signal to customers (current and prospective) what a brand stands for in a meaningful way.

This is of special note in an age when study after study tells us younger generations of consumers want more than just a transactional relationship with brands–they want to feel a deeper emotional connection.

Why does your brand exist?

What problem does it solve?

How can it make someone’s life better?

Brands that successfully address these questions are likely to lead their respective industries in the coming years. And brands that behave transparently in acting on their promises are brands that will attract droves of young consumers like a giant magnet.

Mars Food–our host for last week’s Brand Innovators Deep Dive in Chicago–knows all about being a purpose-led company. Founder Forrest Mars Sr. was known to say “Good products plus good people make a good business.” Dan Jackson, Mars’ Vice President of Marketing, puts it another way: “The world we want tomorrow starts with the business we do today.”

Want more proof of the Mars commitment? Look no further than this video pinned atop the brand’s Twitter Page.

Of special note was this prescient quote: “We don’t just think in business quarters. We think in generations.” That’s what a declaration of purpose looks like.

This latest Brand Innovators event pulled together members of the Chicago marketing community–along with our friends from the impact-minded agency Porter Novelli–for some passionate, far-reaching discussions on how brands are striving to be about more than just the almighty dollar. Themes of not only purpose but community, transparency & impact were front & center throughout the day.

Clement Reid, Marketing Director for Commercial Powerhouse Brands at Beam Suntory, got emotional while talking about the brand’s Island Spirit Fund, which generously aided relief efforts after Hurricane Maria hit St. Croix in 2017. (The island is home to one of the firm’s distilleries.) Reid spoke of the company’s 50 employees as though they were family. His emotion was understandable: on the day of the event, Hurricane Dorian was hurtling toward St. Croix.

Kathleen Murphy Toms, Director of Digital Strategy for Giving Tuesday, put the call out to brands to keep doing what they can to spread good. “We are out to create the greatest generosity movement of all-time,” she said. Giving Tuesday raised $400 million last year alone. (Mark your calendar for this year’s edition, which comes December 3.)

In the spirit of the day, Mars Food welcomed a couple traditional rivals (Tyson Foods and Mondelēz International) into the room. Brigette Wolf, Head of Mondelēz’ SnackFutures Innovation program, tapped into something really cool, which is when legacy brands know they have to shed an old skin in order to grow a new one. “Our mission was to disrupt ‘big food,’ including ourselves,” she laughed.

While conversations about purpose inevitably veer towards the serious, the day was not without its lighter moments thanks in large part to Zach Duenow, Director Brand Strategy & Creative Excellence at GSK. Duenow ended his segment by breaking into tune. His Dylan-esque song “People Buy Purpose (Man, That’s What Sells)” could serve as a conscience-fueled manifesto for a new era in marketing.

Follow this link to learn more about this and other Brand Innovators events.

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