What’s a Purpose-Driven Brand?

By: Rick Crawford

When I tell people that my company’s mission is to build purpose-driven brands that inspire solutions to social and environmental problems,  the first question I usually receive is, “What does it mean to be a purpose-driven brand?”

A purpose-driven brand is one that not only makes a profit, but makes a positive impact by using its business as a vehicle to solve social or environmental problems.  This is also known as doing well by doing good.  Below are some additional ways that brands exemplify that that they are purpose-driven.

Protect What You Love

I had the good fortune to live in Colorado and Wyoming for a few years and after spending so much time hiking, camping and fishing in such wild and beautiful places, I realized I have a responsibility to protect what I love.  In the case of companies in the fly-fishing industry, they know that they need a healthy  environment and healthy fisheries for their industry to survive, so it makes sense that some brands use their business as a way to protect the environment and fisheries, so that they can protect what they love.

Another way of saying this is that brands in the fly-fishing industry love to fly fish, so the resource (fish) must be protected because…No Fish = No Customers.

Give Back

Purpose-driven brands not only talk the talk, but walk the walk by donating to nonprofits that are helping to protect what they love.

Take for example, one of our clients, Flood Tide Company who lives by their simple mantra of “Good Clean Livin.” and the lifestyle that it represents, which is why it makes perfect sense that they are  a 1% for the Planet Member.  This means they donate 1% of their sales to environmental nonprofits, which authenticates the “Good Clean Livin” lifestyle.  This also makes sense as they understand that a healthy environment is critical for the long-term growth of their business.

Another client of ours, Rep Your Water, is “dedicated to providing uniquely designed, top quality gear for anglers and hunters while increasing support of local conservation and inspiring exploration.”  Rep Your Water fulfills its mission by donating a percentage of sales of each of their products to nonprofits like: local Trout Unlimited chapters, Backcountry Hunters and Anglers and Bonefish Tarpon Trust.  This also makes sense as Rep Your Water knows that fisheries conservation plays a role in the long-term success of their business.

Speaking of understanding the importance of healthy fisheries and a healthy environment, both Flood Tide Company and Rep Your Water are working to minimize the environmental impact of their businesses.  This is important because the success of their businesses depend on it.  Simply stated…No Fish = No Customers.

Minimize Environmental Impact

Purpose-driven brands also minimize their environmental impact because they know that we live on a planet with finite resources, so conducting business responsibly is critical for their business.  For example, they measure energy, waste and water usage and calculate their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and then develop strategies that lessen their impact on the environment.  Not coincidentally, minimizing a company’s environmental footprint is also good for business as it results in reduced operational costs, and also provides an avenue for creating powerful marketing stories.

As population continues to grow, so does the demand for natural resources, which includes fish.  Energy and water conservation is becoming increasingly important, as is minimizing the amount of waste sent to the landfill.  Additionally, there is a direct correlation between minimizing environmental impact and greenhouse gas emissions, which helps to protect fisheries because…No Fish = No Customers.

Sustainability Achievements = Powerful Marketing Stories

Purpose-driven brands understand the importance of engaging the growing number of conscious consumers that are demanding products that are socially and environmentally responsible.  If sustainability and a brand’s purpose are marketed effectively, there is a massive growth opportunity because consumers are more demanding and educated than ever before due to the plethora of information that is available at one’s fingertip, and they want products that align with their own values.  In fact, according to the 2017 UN Global Compact’s Opportunity Report:

  • 84% of consumers say they seek out responsible products wherever possible

Additionally, Angling Trade recently released the findings from a sampling of 4,000+ Trout Unlimited members and supporters, and:

  • 85% believe climate change is real, and are concerned about it

What does this mean?  Clearly Anglers are concerned about the impact climate change is having on fisheries and consumers around the world want more responsible products, so fishing brands should prepare to meet the demand for responsible products.

So, sustainability is an opportunity for companies in the fly-fishing industry to grow their businesses while protecting what they love because…No Fish = No Customers.

We Are Now Living in the Purpose-Driven Brand Economy

Many of the world’s leading brands have already begun to adopt a sustainable business models by integrating a “purpose” beyond simply making a profit.  Those brands will be the ones that not only survive, but thrive in the 21st century….

How does a brand become a purpose-driven?  They begin by identifying a social or environmental problem they would like to use their business to help solve, and then begin measuring not only their economic bottom line, but also measuring their social and environmental bottom lines (triple bottom line) so that they mitigate the risks associate with over-population, policy (Protect Public Lands, Now or Neverglades, Low-Carbon USA, etc.) and pollution (plastic and greenhouse gas emissions).

Instead of the 20th Century model of take, make, waste manufacturing, they are finding creative solutions to solve environmental problems by adopting a circular economy model.  For example, Patagonia has its Worn Wear initiative that keeps its clothing in action longer through repair and reuse, and recycles its garments when they’re beyond repair.

Finally, instead of only reaching their prospective customers through catalogs and retail, like in the 20th century, the successful brands of the 21st century integrate their social and environmental purpose into all of their sales and marketing channels (catalog, retail, social media, website, etc.) to connect with the growing population of conscious consumers because no matter which century we are talking about, brands that make emotional connections with consumers do very well.  So, why not do well, by doing good?

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