The Changing Landscape of Purpose

By Cambria Hayashino –

It’s no secret that purpose is increasingly important for companies. Having a strong sense of purpose can help companies attract top talent, and also help their bottom line. A recent Fast Company article highlighted this connection between purpose and success, advocating that the most successful companies are often the ones with a clear purpose.

But having purpose is not the same as maintaining purpose. Purpose is highly influenced by outward and inward environments and must be able to withstand derailing distractions from both sources. Keeping a robust sense of purpose is difficult in any circumstance, but particularly when the landscape of purpose is rapidly changing.

Let’s look at some of the macro-level changes facing brands today:

Social: Digital technology has been a game-changer for the fabrics of our social systems. Particularly in the area of communication, there are new social expectations and habits connected to the digitization of society. Organizations, be they large multinational corporations, small start-ups, non-profits or governments, are expected to engage with people in this sphere. Of course, this is not a new trend. But the constant changes to digital communications technology and habits means that companies must be on their toes to keep up.

Environmental: The landmark Paris Agreement in 2015 at COP21 and subsequent work at COP22 in 2016 provided a significant boost to efforts to mitigate climate change. This should have also been a boost in momentum for companies whose purpose is connected to reducing their impact on the planet. However, this agreement is under threat from many sides, including key world leaders. Many companies will soon be faced with a choice, if they have not been already: do they stay firm to their purpose surrounding environmental responsibility, or take advantage of new business opportunities that may arise from potentially relaxed government regulations?

Political: The past year was an uncomfortable year politically, to put it lightly. The rise of populist leaders who are largely suspicious of sustainability agendas means that brands could face increasing political pressure. This can also impact public opinion in regards to sustainability initiatives. In this new era, every communication is political, as a recent post on the Sustainable Brands blog highlighted. To prevent missteps, a company must be sure of its purpose and know how to work with political pressures without compromising purpose.

These are just a few of the big-picture changes that brands encounter. It is important for any company determined to remain purposeful to be able to tackle these changes. They must have a strategy for how to respond in a way that is true to a sense of purpose. But navigating this changing landscape can be difficult without adequate tools.

In order to equip the Sustainable Brands community with the tools to do this, one of our tracks at SB’17 Madrid focuses on the macro landscape of purpose. At our conference, we will discuss this important topic from the stage and over coffee during breaks. Attendees will hear from industry leaders who have learned how to navigate this changing landscape, as well as learn from peers who are seeking to navigate these same changes. All of these will help attendees leave with a fortified sense of purpose and the tools for how to carry this into companies.

Register for SB’17 Madrid today.

Cambria Hayashino is a marketing and communications professional living in Madrid. She is currently completing her Master’s in Corporate Communications at IE Business School in Madrid.

In her free time, she enjoys reading, eating good food and exploring Madrid.