ThinkOTB Agency

What is social purpose and how does it benefit your brand?

April 29, 2022

Sustainability and corporate responsibility are essential elements for all businesses. Those which put their social purpose at the centre of their business model, rather than what they sell, are reaping the rewards. With this clear, compelling foundation, marketing agencies and marketers are able to tell a story that people care about and want to engage with.

What do we mean by ‘brands with a social purpose’?

Call it ‘social purpose’, ‘social good’, ‘social responsibility’, or ‘an ethical brand’. Under this umbrella term, brands can focus their operations on ‘doing good’ in a wide range of areas. This can be anything from improving literacy or driving down carbon emissions, to championing diversity or improving the lives of local communities.

Why beliefs out-sell products

There is growing demand from consumers to buy from brands that have ethical credentials. A 2021 survey of 1,100 UK adults found that 90% want to buy from businesses that are responsible and sustainable. Supporting local businesses and ‘having a fair supply chain’ were the main drivers. 89% said that the environmental sustainability of a company was a significant motivator.

For Millennials and Generation Z it’s vital for companies to invest in improving society and demonstrate how they are participating in CSR initiatives. Social media has become an important tool for promoting social good. It’s there where consumers are heavily influenced by social issues such as war, racial inequality, climate change, and community inequality. As consumers, we naturally connect with brands which care about the same things as we do.

So, when brands develop their story around social purpose, they build trusting relationships with existing audiences. They also get on the radar of new audiences which share their beliefs. These brands leverage their voice to raise awareness of the social issue. At the same time, they’re promoting their brand and products. Win win!

What’s more, Deloitte found that 73% of employees working in companies that are ‘purpose-driven’ feel more engaged. Employees want to be part of a company which has a social heart. offers volunteering days and that donates to their preferred charities.

5 brands which are reaping the rewards of their social purpose

Unity Trust Bank

Unity Trust Bank is an ethical business bank whose mission is to help create a better society here in the UK. This social purpose heavily shapes the bank’s decisions from choosing which businesses to lend to and where to invest, to offering staff volunteering days and selecting suppliers. To date, they have supported 1,024 people with housing and care and protected 795 jobs. The ethical bank also offers businesses with a strong social purpose banking services which squarely answer their needs.

Oddbox

Oddbox is a great example of a social enterprise with a sustainable vision. They deliver boxes of ‘wonky’ fruit and veg that otherwise would be thrown away. This means British farmers get paid for their entire crop and Oddbox donate the surplus to feed the homeless and hungry across London. This strong and timely brand purpose is engaging consumers, generating raving recommendations and saving tonnes in carbon and food waste.

Greggs

Perhaps not a name you expected to see on this list! Greggs have refocused their business to move their image away from an ‘unhealthy fast food’ provider. In February 2021 they launched their Greggs Pledge of ten things they’re doing to help make the world a better place by 2025. The pledge includes providing free breakfasts to schoolchildren to help communities improve their diet by tackling obesity. They give surplus food to charities, have pledged to become a carbon neutral, zero waste business, and are increasing diversity by committing to improve their supply chain.

TOMS

Outside of the UK, TOMS is ‘in business to improve lives’ and puts social purpose powerfully at the heart of their brand. They may be selling ‘earthwise’ shoes but they are delivering much more. They use their donations and workshops to help boost mental health and increase access to opportunities for marginalised groups. TOMS also donate a third of their profits to grassroots activities and providing funding directly to communities.

Patagonia

For outdoor clothing brand, Patagonia, the environment is integral to their brand. They are ‘in business to save our planet’. Their self-imposed 1% earth tax is used to support organisations that are doing environmental good. Consumers buy in to the clear brand message. When they purchase from Patagonia, they know they’re doing their bit to help the planet. It builds loyalty and a feel-good factor.

More and more brands are casting aside cold, hard selling in favour of repositioning their brands and weaving community good into their brand story. In doing so, they can, not only create tangible differences, but they can build powerful consumer connections.ThinkOTB devises brand strategy and marketing support for several clients with social good at the core of the brand. If you’re ready to give your brand more purpose, talk to the ThinkOTB team.

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