We live in a secular world. Life does not slow down on a Sunday, unless of course you’ve had a particularly heavy Saturday night and your raging hangover has confined you to your bed. In those instances, church bells and sermons are the last thing you need, let alone a choir screeching in your ear. The only thing we really believe in anymore is a good brunch spot on Sunday mornings and the night tube. So why then, in a time of such disbelief and apathy towards religion, institutions and an old-world order, are we so obsessed with brands standing for something? When was the moment we began demanding more from our companies than the services and products they gave us?
You could argue that the apathy we experience is in fact the very reason we want to believe in something and if we can’t, at least our favourite brands can and somewhere in our jaded dispositions we can comfort ourselves with the knowledge that we do in fact, believe in something, even if it is by proxy. Buying shoes becomes a far more justifiable action when your shoes are from Toms and help give shoes to children around the world who need them. You can easily spend a wad of cash at Patagonia when you know in doing so you are inadvertently helping save the environment. Similarly, Method makes even domestic chores a more consciously led activity as they promote chemical free living. There isn’t an industry that has escaped the purpose revolution and we now consume mindfully, instead of blindly buying for the sake of it. We buy for need, but also to save the world.
At least, that’s what we’ve told ourselves, and even that ideology has a sinister undertone. The case can easily be argued for guilt free consumption, but consumption nonetheless, however, despite our often biter and sardonic tone, we like to believe that this revolution is real and worth fighting for. The truth is, the world has changed. Technology and social media changed everything, and that includes our relationships with brands and companies. They shifted us from the outside looking in and brought us into the heart of the business. Brands are no longer the stoic, unattainable, no questions asked entities they used to be. Social media has given us a platform to talk to them, fight back, argue, discuss and empower. This relationship is now two-way, and they have to give as much as we do for this to work. In the same instance, social media has given us a megaphone and we’re using it for everything, most importantly, social change. It’s not that we didn’t care about racism, the patriarchy and climate change before, we did, but we also didn’t know as much about it and had no platforms to talk about it. The online world we now live in changed all of that. Gave us an education, and a voice piece, and then brought us together in communities of people just like us and suddenly social consciousness was front and centre. Something everyone could get involved in and not just the old school Glastonbury hippies.
Combine those two things and it’s obvious to see that purpose led brands aren’t just about selling more, but rather about staying relevant in a world that has quickly changed and will continue to do so. Of course, on a purely grass level it helps sales figures and profit, but it’s so much more than that. It’s indicative of a world that has opened up and in doing so, has given us greater opportunities to care. It is in short, the opportunity to step up and be better. The brands that take this on board and integrate a real purpose into their business, as opposed to lip service in their mission statement on their website, are the ones that will lead the next generation of companies into the future, and rightly so. Why should we follow anyone who doesn’t have the best interests of our world at heart? We’ve all watched Blue Planet II, we know the consequences of our mindless consumption and social media has made us care more than we ever used to before. We’re here for change, and we’re ready for our brands to lead the way because we don’t always know how to. We’re ready to believe, and we need their help to do it.