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Why Should You Adopt a Purpose-Driven Brand Model?

People have been trying to sell products and services for as long as anyone can remember. It has evolved from bartering goods like silk, weapons, and spices to selling services like a massage, haircut, and coaching.

In the early days of bartering, most of the bartered items were needs rather than wants. Also, there weren't many people offering the same product or service. This meant the person selling the product didn't have to do much marketing to generate sales. They had a product or service that someone always needed, so all that was left was trading for something the seller needed. But then, came the need for a purpose-driven brand model.

In modern times, this is rarely the case. Products and services have moved away from being things a person absolutely needs, and more so a combination of things they simply want and also need. There are also way more producers of these items and services nowadays, so brands had to come up with strategies to get their customers’ attention and sustain their business; producers must fight amongst themselves for a client's attention and business.

In the 21st century, when businesses are trying to sell their product or service, their marketing objective revolves around the questions of "What and How".

  • What is the business selling? 
  • What is the business going to get out of selling it? 
  • How much profit will this product or service give them?" 

This had been the strategy for quite some time, but now that is all changing. Businesses now have to present their brand purpose—their reason and objectives for existing beyond making money.

The New Trend

Generation Z (Gen Z), those born roughly between 1997 and 2015, is changing how brands do business, more specifically, how they market their services and products. No longer can businesses be solely focused on themselves and how much they are making. Instead, Gen Z has changed the game and is now more focused on brand purpose, such as whether brands are advocating for climate change or other movements to help change the world.

This generation started entering the workforce within the last couple of years, and they are looking for a higher purpose, a reason, and a motivator beyond making money. 

A Gen Z person is most likely to support a business with an authentic and powerful mission; they are more drawn to purpose-driven brands. Some things they consider when availing of a product or service are:

  • Sustainability
  • Workers rights
  • Company values

"What and How" are not the only questions brands need to answer because of generational change. "Why and For Whom" are also essential questions for doing business now.

  • Why is their business selling this product or service?
  • For whom are they providing it?
  • What customers' needs should they meet?
  • How can their consumers resonate with their purpose?

Businesses need to be purposeful now and can't just focus on their revenue; they need to positively impact society to achieve more customer support.

Gen Z on phones researching purpose-driven brands

Price with a Purpose

Unfortunately, sometimes having a quality product or service at a fair price is not enough for consumers to buy it. 

There is a trend with consumers now willing to pay a higher price for the benefit of something or someone. For example, the shoe company TOMS puts 1/3 of its profits toward creating local improvements. Companies like TOMS gain Gen Z's support because of their values, mission, and higher purpose. 

If your business hasn't developed a brand purpose model yet, then you need to start putting effort into it now. This generation appreciates strategies for helping society and will set a precedent for the market will progress.

Brand Purpose: Defined

So you want to invest in a purpose-driven brand, but you're not sure how. Simply put, a purpose-driven brand is motivated by its core mission. The business exists to solve an issue or meet a societal need. The business takes that purpose and uses it to make decisions on its brand, vision, mission, visual identity, story, and more.

Richard Branson, the Virgin Group Founder said, "The brands that will thrive in the coming years are the ones that have a purpose beyond profit." He knows what he is talking about as he controls more than 400 companies across various fields.

Man packing a box of goods to donate

Examples of Purpose-Driven Brands

Reach your limit, take inspiration from these purpose-driven brands.


Patagonia is a clothing line for all genders and ages, which also offers a few books in their inventory. However, they don't just sell clothes and books. They also use their resources (brand voice, business, and community) to do something about the climate crisis. They do this through two programs called "Materials and Environmental Programs" and "Social Responsibility Programs."

Through the "Materials and Environmental Programs," they have built robust environmental and animal welfare responsibility programs that guide how they make their materials and products. The "Social Responsibility Program" ensures their products are created under safe, fair, legal, and humane working conditions. In addition, the company freely shares information about its facilities and suppliers, so customers know where and how their clothes are made.

The Giving Keys

The Giving Keys is known as a "pay-it-forward" company. They offer hand-stamped, inspirational products like jewelry and keychains. Since their inception, they have provided more than 130 jobs for people transitioning out of homelessness.

Headbands of Hope

For every product you buy through Headbands of Hope, a headband will be donated to a child with an illness. According to their 2020 Annual Giving Report,  over 340,000 headbands were donated in 2020, and over 850,000 in total have been given out since the business's inception in 2012.

Headbands of Hope began after the owner interned at a wish-granting organization that saw many kids lose their hair to chemo. This inspired her to start a business to help children with illnesses. Today, Headbands of Hope is carried in thousands of stores across the world. The business has been featured on the TODAY Show, Good Morning America, Vanity Fair, and Seventeen Magazine. Several celebrities also endorse the business, like Lea Michele, Lauren Conrad, Lili Reinhart, Kelsea Ballerini, and more.

The Benefits of Being Purpose-Driven

If you are concerned that developing a purpose-driven brand will cost you money, please do not worry. Adding a purpose to your brand will actually help you grow sales. As of 2020, 63% of consumers prefer to purchase their goods and services from purpose-driven businesses. Being purpose-driven also helps improve brand loyalty. In 2018, AgilityPR said that 79% of Americans say they would have more loyalty to a purpose-driven company. Finally, the last reason you should have a purpose-driven brand is that it increases your impact!

If you're at a loss for words or simply clueless on where to begin, Acton Circle provides exclusive services to purpose-driven organizations and businesses alike. We can help you get started.

June 6, 2022

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About Acton Circle

We’re Acton Circle, a boutique design agency helping purpose-driven organizations increase their impact. Led by Founder and CEO, Olivia Wheeler, Acton Circle has helped countless change-makers leverage the power of design for social good.

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