On the subject of purpose

It’s the 4th of April 2020, and we have officially been in isolation for 20 days due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Unfortunately, the situation caused by this pandemic, which none of us could have imagined may happen, is affecting the loss of many of our loved ones and the illness in many others. However, it’s also a wakeup call for us to reconsider the way in which we live on our planet and the meaning of our lives.

Do we want to carry on being part of a society that’s running without knowing where it’s going? Do we want to continue living in a society that as Henry David Thoreau described “persuades us to spend money we don’t have, on things we don’t need, to create impressions that won’t last, on people we don’t care about”?

Ultimately, this situation can help us to rethink our individual and collective lives.

And now more than ever, it’s essential that brands and companies for whom we are “consumers” (I don’t like this word, we should start to talk about citizens), also take this opportunity to “rethink”. That means identifying their “purpose”, their reason for existing.

If we’re smart and we get this chance to “wake up” and start to live meaningfully as individuals and collectively, in a conscious and sustainable way to build a project that goes beyond “consuming”, brands and companies have a very important role.
If, before Covid-19, it was already important for brands and companies to have a purpose (I have been very lucky to work with many companies for many years now that discuss and put into practice the idea of business with purpose), it’s now more crucial than ever for them to have a clear purpose and for citizens (not consumers) to decide who they want to build relationships with based on what this brand or company does for society (beyond whether this brand or company sells products that solve a specific need for us).

Ultimately, every brand and company will need to, or better said we will demand that they have a purpose that goes beyond their business objectives. A purpose in the health, social inclusion or environmental areas. We will demand that they are sustainable companies. Conscious and meaningful companies. Companies that are part of the solution, not the problem. Not as something that they do as well as their main function (core) but as something that’s integrated into their essence (into the core business).

What should we, the citizens, do for our voices to be heard? As we can “wake up” individually but feel powerless to make a change.
This is when a new reality and a new conscience must emerge. We must exercise our power as citizens every day. How? In all of our buying decisions. Let’s make the brands and companies have an impact purpose and then make our buying decisions according to this.

Recently, we’re seeing many brands and companies that are doing everything they can to help with this crisis. Many have started to adapt their productive capabilities to create necessary solutions right now. This approach to business should continue after Covid-19.

If brands and companies fix their purpose, communicate and explain it in their branding mix (including packaging) and we, as citizens, choose depending on this, then we’ll really see a change and we’ll manage to transform our individual and collective reality because the power will be in every awakened person.

About the author: Paco Prat
• Business Unit Head Pet Vet at Boehringer Ingelheim
• Former General Manager in Upfield
• Former Foods Business Director in Unilever
• Passionate for brands with purpose
• Member of Fundación Exit
April 20th, 2020 | Branding

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