You can’t move in advertising and marketing circles recently for pieces declaring the imminent death of “brand purpose” – that single idea that has so dominated proceedings for the last decade or so.
It’s in some ways a welcome prospect – did anyone really want to hear Pepsi’s views on racial justice? – but for those of us who think business can and should be a force for good, is it really a positive development? Might it set back the cause, forever tainting attempts to connect business with ethics? That’s what I’ve been thinking about this week.
Brand purpose is an idea that’s consumed the world of brands for nearly a decade, much to the chagrin of many marketers and countless more consumers. The tide seems like it might be turning – but what will replace it, and what does its death mean for ethical business more fundamentally?
A fascinating early Japanese cookbook, the Ryori Monogatari dates from 1643:
“Taken together, the book’s explanations of its dishes open a window on how the Japanese ate during the Edo period, named for the capital city we now know as Tokyo, which lasted from 1603 to 1863.”
Perhaps surprisingly it contains recipes for several familiar-to-us dishes, such as sushi, udon noodles, and yakitori.
A really thoughtful post from Nick Asbury on the phenomenon of “brand purpose”, which has come to dominate the world of branding in the past decade:
“It’s a hazy fiction that allows people to think well of themselves, even as their decisions are driven by commercial incentives. The defining dynamic of Tech Valley is this outward belief in brand purpose, allied to an inward focus on venture capital and IPO, where you just have to get enough people to believe in your story for enough of the time. IPO is the cashing out of brand purpose.
“Mark Zuckerberg is the supreme example – brand purpose is the wind beneath his hydrofoil board. But we all live in Zuckerberg’s world. I believe passionately that, each time we lend credibility to brand purpose as a concept, another corporate sociopath gets their wings. It’s time to stop feeding this narrative that has dominated the last decade. Turn off the dry ice machine that provides the corporate atmospherics. See the world as it is.”