Why brands need to bring their purpose to life internally, not just externally

Having a brand purpose is all very well, but if consumers are going to be believe it is genuine brands must communicate the values internally first.

communicate ideas

Any true measurement of the social impact of a purpose campaign should start by analysing the impact on employees. Total transparency around the goals and achievements of each campaign will help businesses bring the wider team along with them, and in turn help consumers see it is a genuine effort.

The Body Shop has a number of ongoing initiatives, such as its ‘Forever Against Animal Testing’ petition to get animal testing in cosmetics banned worldwide. It is aiming to reach 8 million signatures to present the UN this year.

Jessie Macneil-Brown, head of global campaigns at The Body Shop, reports back to her wider team every week on the number of signatures gained, as well as sharing information on the campaign’s social media engagement and the number of meetings secured with politicians in a bid to drive policy change. Each week she also updates the international team on the progress of the campaign, best practice and shares details on how other countries are performing.

All this information feeds into the market research team’s analysis of customer opinions, which tracks how consumers and supporters are responding to each Body Shop campaign.

Every employee is a brand ambassador for your company. Unless they are inspired by your own campaigns, how could you expect consumers not working at the company to be inspired?

Raja Rajamannar, Mastercard

The brand also adheres to its wider ‘Enrich Not Exploit’ corporate responsibility framework, which is based on 14 publicly reported targets. The Body Shop first reported back on these targets in June 2017, with a further update expected in the middle of this year.

“Everywhere we are measuring and using indicators and we’re being very transparent to our customers, the general public and our internal staff,” says Macneil-Brown. “From staff to customers to the wider impact you are having on society, you set up those indicators when you start your programme.”

READ MORE: If purpose is so important to brands why are so many failing to measure its impact?

Body Shop UN
The Body Shop team on site at the UN headquarters in New York.

She explains that having new ownership, in the form of Brazilian cosmetics manufacturer Natura Cosméticos, means a lot of work is going on internally around renewing The Body Shop’s mission.

Natura, which is one of Latin America’s largest cosmetics groups, completed its £880m acquisition of The Body Shop from L’Oréal in September, adding the British brand to a portfolio including Australian beauty group, Aesop. The first thing the Natura CEO did when he visited The Body Shop’s offices in London was sign the ‘Forever Against Animal Testing’ petition.

“We are thrilled to be working with an organisation that shares the same ethos as us, so now we’re focused on the triple bottom line,” Macneil-Brown adds.

“We’re going through that process of getting to know each other and how we’re going to move forward in the future and there’s a lot of work we’re doing on the brand purpose for The Body Shop as well.”

Actions not words

Taking action to live your brand purpose is as important to employees as it is to consumers. At Mastercard, its Priceless positioning is infused into everything the brand does from a marketing perspective, feeding into its approach to the 4Ps and employer branding.

The company’s commitment to transparency resonates with the wider Mastercard team, close to half of whom are millennials. Rajamannar identifies the millennial workforce, in particular, as seeking out purpose driven companies.

READ MORE: HSBC – Younger marketers take sustainability more seriously

“Every employee is a brand ambassador for your company. Unless they are inspired by your own campaigns, how could you expect consumers not working at the company to be inspired?” he argues.

“Consumers are not just looking at your advertising, they want you to take action. That is what consumers are expecting, so why would we not focus on the fact that our own employees are our best consumers? It’s not simply sufficient to have a fantastic, grand purpose – but what are you doing about it?”

Rajamannar argues that consumers are no longer impressed by brands being “nice”. Instead they gravitate towards brands that take action and make a tangible difference to society. This is why brand purpose needs to be linked with the business in an authentic, credible manner.

“Our positioning is connecting people to ‘Priceless Possibilities’ and that’s not a tagline, that’s our internal philosophy,” adds Rajamannar.

“The kind of events we leverage to bring it to life and what format we use will be cognisant of where we are at that place and time. This campaign has the promise of longevity and it will keep evolving as times evolve. Right now ‘Start Something Priceless’ seems to be absolutely appropriate for the times we live in.”