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Published on

October 11, 2022


ESG, Purpose marketing, sustainability, sustainability marketing

We live in a time where brands are being held to a higher standard. Brands are expected to do more than just make money. They are expected to stand for something, to align with the values of their consumers and to make purpose an integral part of their business. At the same time, it’s important for brands to be careful to not embellish by simply putting on a show to attract consumers. Consumers want brands to demonstrate proof – to show not tell. Truth in marketing has never been more critical.  

Jennifer Greatrex, Managing Director at TEAM LEWIS Australia, hosted an online webinar with General Assembly to discuss the importance of driving a purpose minded business.  

We are at a tipping point:

We have been hearing about purpose and how it matters to businesses and impacts people’s lives for years now. But it’s really reaching a tipping point. Today, consumers and customers are caring more and more about doing business with and working for businesses that are purposeful. Especially, since the pandemic, which really reminded the world what matters.

Brands are recognising this too, with purpose becoming an integral priority and critical boardroom conversation. In a recent study of Fortune 500 leaders, only 7% believe their companies should mainly focus on making profits and not be distracted by social goals. This indicates that the majority of CEOs believe in driving purpose vs focusing on profits.

Barriers to adopt:

While there is an immediate need for brands to make responsible changes, purpose and ESG initiatives are complex, and many businesses are afraid of communicating for fear of backlash. They struggle to know whether to go out loud and proud or if they’re doing enough, worrying that their supply chain isn’t perfect or that they don’t have 100% traceability.

Three key issues that brands are currently facing include:  

  1. Lack of trust: There is a divide between consumer and business perceptions when it comes to whether enough is being done in ethical and sustainable efforts. The large majority of consumers don’t trust that brands are sustainability and ethically driven in their marketing and branding or that they’re aiming to achieve net zero by a certain date. A recent study by PWC highlighted this with 87% of corporate leaders believing consumers have a high level of trust in their business, while only 30% of consumers said the same thing.
  2. Increasing competition: The level of competitiveness in all sectors is increasing. The proliferation of offerings and level of choice our customers have today has grown and continues to grow exponentially. However, focusing on the competitive landscape may be a hinderance, the competition will always be there. In order to grow, stay focused on your brands own goals and value. Companies that incorporate environmental, social and governance issues into their policies and programs will be well positioned against their competition.
  3. The loyalty challenge: Brand loyalty is becoming harder and harder to attain. Today, consumers are choosing cost savings over brand loyalty. Beyond price, we all know customer experience is a critical factor to winning and maintaining customer loyalty. Today, a positive customer experience also needs to incorporate a business’s commitment to their social values. Further research shows that a quarter of Gen Z and Millennials will increase spending with a brand that takes a strong stand on a social issue they support. In fact, brands with a strong ESG agenda make a more sustainable impact and grow faster than less sustainable brands.  

Related Content: Sustainability Now- Trends Shaping Sustainable Marketing Communications

Small steps matter:

Most consumers don’t expect brands to get it 100% right overnight. We’re all on a journey to better practices and every small step matters and makes an impact. As businesses consider moving forward in a more sustainable, purpose-driven way here are a few steps to get started.  

  • Articulate your vision and establish your goals:

    Clearly stating your goals and your plans for getting there is powerful and holds merit with consumers. It’s why companies have vision and mission statements. These statements often revolve around companies claiming to be the only, the best or the market leader. However, having a vision for the greater good is far more powerful. Re-think your mission, have a dream, and aspire to be purpose focussed. Remember, such outcomes don’t arise magically because you decide to be purpose-driven. They take shape most effectively when purpose connects with your company’s unique ability to create value and one that starts from the top and runs right through all aspects of the business.  
  • Heart matters:

    Just saying you’re doing ESG, or sustainability is fine, but it’s not motivating. As with any communications, the emotive factor you convey is where the power lies. As Maya Angelo once said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Ultimately, emotions are important in marketing because the emotional connection is a significant determinant in the choices made by consumers. Therefore, as marketers it’s imperative that we all aim to make an emotional impression that attracts our target audience’s attention to our service or product. A few examples of brands that have successfully conveyed an emotional reaction when communicating their purpose include: 




Related Content: The Best Green Marketing Campaigns

What to do next?

When it comes to driving a purpose driven business remember that small steps matter. Small, everyday tasks ladder up to something bigger. Companies and leaders can use purpose to define strategic choices, where to play and how to win. Brands should consider purpose as they define their markets, their value propositions, and future plans.  

Purpose is a big deal, and it can feel complex, but we don’t have to make it too difficult. Align to what matters most to you. As a leader within a company or as an individual.  

Again, no one, or very few are doing this work perfectly. We can choose to drive our businesses, to work for companies, to buy from companies, take actions, and volunteer, in alignment with what matters most to us. 

Related Content: Why Organisations Must Stand for Something


Looking to drive purpose and redefine your company’s core reason for being? Connect with Jennifer on LinkedIn and download the full webinar below.  



View The Webinar Recording

Do get in touch