Strategy & creative agency GOOD have revealed their new research and thinking on social purpose to a room of senior brand leaders. Together with The Economist Group, they set out the clear societal, environmental and cultural need but also the opportunity for brands that make a real impact.

41% of consumers believe that businesses need to bring about positive change. (Wolff Olins, Radical Everyone)

The financial opportunity for businesses that embrace social purpose is £12trillion. (Business Commission)

And 48% of executives agree that companies that operate with social purpose have a financial competitive advantage over their peers’ (The Economist)

Under the banner of ‘Purpose Made Real’, GOOD’s research claims to lay out a clear path to action for any brand that wants to seize the opportunity to become more relevant and meaningful to staff, stakeholders and consumers.

“Across the marketing landscape, discussions around purpose are everywhere at the moment. But when The Economist Group conducted research over the summer it highlighted that while many business executives recognise the value of acting with social purpose, there is a noticeable disconnect between that thought and a company actually putting those words into action.

Taking action isn’t easy, in many cases requiring a rethink of how success is measured across the company and asking some difficult questions internally. While it’s entirely possible to do that on your own, it can be helpful to get external guidance from experts in the field, who have helped companies navigate through the minefields of purpose before. This is precisely where agencies like GOOD can make a difference. It’s not just about creating a purpose-led ad campaign, but rather taking strategic advice on how to make purpose a part of how a company operates at every level.” Jamie Credland, SVP Client Strategy and Marketing at The Economist.

Instead of looking at purpose statements and brand manifestos, GOOD looked at how 100 leading, purpose-led brands were actually investing in impact initiatives. They then mapped these onto a new Purpose Prism model, which other brands can use to identify how to define and grow their impact as part of a strategic journey.

As Emma Hargreaves, Strategy Partner at GOOD explains, “By understanding different models of impact, the purpose prism helps businesses amplify and create new ways to make positive change. There are 14 different models and each gives businesses a different set of priorities, possibilities and opportunities to define a unique and differentiating strategy.”

Chris Norman, CEO at GOOD added “Too many brands think Purpose is a campaign or a tactic, it’s not. Purpose is a commitment to take action on a social or environmental issue that is relevant to a brand; that commitment shouldn’t change until the desired impact has been achieved, however long that takes.

Too many brands are stuck before they start their Purpose journey because they try to align the whole business first. The most effective and powerful Purpose journey’s start in one part of the business and evolve to involve the whole business.”

By focusing on solving real problems, purpose also opens up more creative opportunities. As GOOD’s Creative Partner Reuben Turner points out, “where adland used to focus on consumer and human needs, the most interesting briefs in the industry now come from where human needs and humanity’s needs meet. There’s no greater creative opportunity for impact and standout.”

You can download a full copy of the report here