Purpose and Profit: An Inextricable Link

A few weeks ago I was invited to Koblenz, Germany to present the Barcelona City Branding Project.

Oriol Iglesias, from Esade Business School summoned me to the annual meeting of Medinge Group, a European think tank that promotes ‘branding with conscience’. From this association, professionals from all over the world think about how companies can work for their benefit and, with a purpose, work for a better world in equal parts.

The formula could not seem more attractive to me. Branding = profit + purpose.

The change in the change of change

In this 21st century of accelerated changes, there are different circumstances that also push the change towards a more sustainable economic model:

The financial crisis started in the US in 2007 with subprime mortgages, triggered reactions and changes in society over time in different areas. Consumers lost trust in their governments and turned it to companies and brands as an agent for change.

According to the Edelman Trust Barometer 2019, 73% of respondents around the world believe that a company can take measures to increase profits and improve the economic and social conditions of the community in which it operates. And 76% say that CEOs should take the initiative in the change and not expect governments to do so.

The 4th industrial revolution, or the technological tsunami is changing the way we live, work, and relate. And also consumer behavior is changing to new criteria beyond price. For instance, trust in the brand.

The climatic crisis. As a consequence of the massive insatiable impact of the human being on the planet’s resources, Earth Overshoot Date reported that in August 2018 we had already consumed all the natural resources that the planet could generate in a year. When they started calculating it, in 1970, the resources of a year were exhausted on December 29.

Among the technological tsunami and the climate crisis, “technology can help us save the planet; but, more than anything, we must learn to value nature “in the words of Marco Lambertini, General Director of WWF International”

But what about people? With over 800 million hungry people today, hunger continues to grow as a result of climate change, war conflicts and economic slowdown, according to WHO 2018.

Therefore, urgent changes in economic and consumer models are needed towards a more sustainable economic development that benefits the planet, people … and the company of the future.

Purpose and benefit to change the world

I immersed myself in the subject and I found several studies showing how companies focused on environmental, social and governance improvements (ESG) tend to record a better financial performance, generating a positive impact for the company, investors and society in general.

Aaron Hurts, CEO and Founder of IMPERATIVE, is the creator of the concept ‘Purpose Economy’. In a study carried out in 2016, he shows that the involvement of employees with the purpose provides a measurable impact on business. Specifically, 42% of companies that were not considered “purpose-oriented” experienced a decrease in year-on-year earnings. In contrast, 85% of targeted companies had positive growth.

Mr. Larry Fink, CEO of Black Rock, who according to Wikipedia is at the forefront of “the most powerful investment corporation in the world,” writes a letter every year to the executives of hundreds of companies worldwide where