Activating Purpose: keep discovering

by Sandra Pina, Sustainable Brands Madrid Director & Partner at Somos Quiero.

Most of Boards and CEOS in the world, and therefore brands and organizations are now in the road of purpose. In our journey at SB Madrid we discovered how everything starts with the people. The entity does not have a purpose, but the people who lead the organization and who work for it… they/we all want to make sure their/our daily lives are fulfilled and this is a path towards purpose.

Purpose can be defined as the reason we go to work behind our financial reward and recognition…Do you have deep and meaningful relationships at work?… are you doing work that makes a positive impact in this world? Which are your purpose drivers at work?… and, as we proposed in our wonderful Quiero project: what do you want to do with your life? When it comes to CEOs, the personal legacy is a strong lever: what do I want my legacy to be when I am no longer in this company?

COP 21 gave a new set of expectations for government and businesses. The opportunity is to take our brands and corporations that have the potential to create deep connections with consumers and engage them. In this journey, you can´t be shy. If it is not risky and controversial then probably it is not worth it. SDG´s are the lighthouse for our brand purpose. SDG´s can connect the different executive functions: CMO, CFO, CSO, COO…something that traditional CSR never managed to do. By the way in this same line of reference, your clients and consumers see your company as a whole, not as separate departments.

The sustainable future that we desire, that purposeful meaningful valuable day, requires us to have a passion about dignity, justice and equality and to fight to get these implemented. Here, it is to our brands and corporations that have the potential to create deep special connections with their stakeholders, to make the world a better place. And of course, CSR is no longer enough.

We learned that Building a purposeful organization implies an organization transformation: activating purpose will transform strategy, structure, process, tools, and talent management. For example, in the recruiting process we can ask people what is your personality and strengths, how about asking them about their purpose drivers?

Change scares us but only those who change will thrive.

SDG´s are a future license to operate. And you know what? When you impact positively SDG´s the dialogue and communication with your stakeholders (and clients) becomes authentic, and therefore, credible. Your employees reconnect also with the organization and become the most believable communicators. Trust and reconnection are established.

There is a set of leading innovators that are changing industry standards. Having a genuine, brave, social purpose sparks innovation. At Somos Quiero, we always say “if it can´t be dreamed of, it can´t be done”.

Of course activating your purpose requires a change in your strategies. Let´s speak for example about marketing strategies. Some people can make a good product but here we talk about the opportunity of create a loyal strong fan and to help them become active creating social positive change. Typical marketing strategy (cause related marketing) starts with who are my consumers, what is important to them and how do I create a campaign that creates value to them providing brand equity. But the new marketing strategy would start by the values of the brand, thinking about what is the change we want to make it into the world and building consumer engagement and activation to take action on an issue. This delivers social change and builds brand equity as well. Those loyal fans are less likely to trade us for a competitor.

Purpose can be achieved by cities too, by understanding the deep sense of alignment and relation of its citizens and co-creating better experiences and services together. We need to push the new set of policy makers: local players. This year in our Co-Creating cities event we asked citizens and engaged them in thinking about the type of city they would like to have regarding sustainable urban mobility. Cities also need to find a concrete, personal purpose,  derived from local, personal interests. This was a key reason why Paris succeeded: it wasn’t thought in a major scale of impact but expressed and developed as a direct impact to people their families…

Cities are the nest of families, of children, their dreams and beliefs. There are people that say that citizens are not interested in sustainability issues, nevertheless the reality we have lived over the last 3 years with our Sustainable Sunday with more than 10.400 people enjoying events, dialogues, workshops, music, fashion in a responsible, different way, have tough us different.

A number of company chief executives, ranging from Starbucks Corp.’s Howard Schultz to Google’s Sundar Pichai, spoke out about or taken action after President Trump’s temporary travel ban on refugees. Again, today many CEO´s are being mobilized after Trump´s decision about Paris agreement. Business leaders are mobilizing, together with cities and states. Companies will now lead and go around Trump while activating their purposes.  There are moments when people decide if you are serious with your purpose, this is one of them.

Purpose is a choice, as simple as this…You have only one pass through life: where you work and how you use your time is decisive. If you work in a company that the issues you believe in are not important to your boss or to your colleagues, find a new company, life is too short to waste your time and energy in being stuck in something you don’t believe in.

An enormous thank you to those who guided us and shared their insights in this journey of discovery during these 3 days at Sustainable Brands Madrid event. Keep exploring, keep discovering, keep sharing… I believe this is the secret.

Sandra Pina, Sustainable Brands Madrid Director & Partner at Somos Quiero.