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Lessons from 2020: Reimagining Your Sense of Purpose 

Trends and Insight 95 Add to collection

Distillery ask marketing specialists Rebecca Hirst and Stephen Mangham how brands should continue along the path of a 'new normal'

Lessons from 2020: Reimagining Your Sense of Purpose 

At distillery, the team believe that 2021 is going to be a year that many businesses will use to reconnect with their sense of purpose, and maybe even reimagine it. 

According to Deloitte, “organisations that know why they exist and who they’re built to serve are uniquely positioned to navigate unprecedented change”. With the continuing impact of Covid-19, this fundamental is set to keep growing in importance. The multinational professional services network’s 2021 Global Marketing Trends report states that out of 2,447 global consumers surveyed, 79% noted instances of brands positively responding to Covid-19 to help their customers, workforces, and communities. 

Consumers in Asia-Pacific, too, are looking to businesses for solutions. Media intelligence platform Telum Media’s managing director, Tim Williamson, has this to say: “Weary consumers are gravitating to trusted media brands to help navigate uncertainty. The tech giants are under greater public scrutiny. There is an opportunity for brands and marketing and communications teams to build trust by engaging authentically with their audiences.” 

What has led us to this place, and how should brands continue along the path of the ‘new normal’ to reconnect with their purpose? 

Distillery spoke to marketing specialists Rebecca Hirst and Stephen Mangham, who joined our board of advisors this year. 


If you had to pick a buzzword for 2021, based on everything we experienced last year, what would it be? 

Rebecca: Community. We’ve all felt the isolation and weirdness that 2020 brought and in 2021 I think we’re going to be embracing coming together in new ways. I saw a great idea the other day from Step Up Club. They’re offering virtual coworking sessions for entrepreneurs who miss the energy that comes from working alongside others - you book in when you're missing that community 'buzz' around you. 


Community is definitely something that many people feel they’re missing out on at the moment. How do you think brands have stepped up to fill that gap for their fans? 

Stephen: For smart brands, the pandemic changed their priorities and the way they interact with audiences. They helped and supported their customers in a scary and stressful time. If they couldn’t genuinely help, then they didn’t advertise. They prioritised usefulness over profits, and over ‘entertainment for entertainment’s sake’. 

Rebecca: I’ve seen two things happening. Brands making sure they add value by being useful, and brands adapting quickly to the shifting dynamics, including how they take their product or services to market. Clear and honest communication has become more important than ever, especially in the early months of the pandemic when some companies were scrambling to move everything online. 


And for brands that want to continue helping and supporting their customers, prioritising usefulness and transparent communication - what should their overarching strategy be? 

Stephen: Business purpose is high on the C-Suite agenda right now. Covid has made us all aware that we can’t ignore the impact our actions have on our communities and the wider world. In fact, in the UK, publicly listed companies are now obligated to state their purpose in their annual reports. 


Can you tell our readers a little more about what purpose-led strategy is all about? 

Stephen: Being led by purpose means being led by a deep understanding of how useful your offering is to your customer. What’s the relevance of your brand in their lives today and in the future? What does it contribute? More than that, what is the impact of your offering on the environment and society at large? Meaningful purpose means having a plan to mitigate or minimise that impact. Otherwise it’s just virtue signalling. 

Rebecca: It’s that “B Corporation” ethos of the triple bottom line: people, planet, and profit. Customers are more and more discerning about where they’ll spend their hard-earned cash, so when you’re clear on how your brand brings value to people, planet, and profit, you start seeing its purpose and place in the world. 


Would you agree that some introspection, even a brand refresher, is invaluable when it comes to finding that purpose? 

Stephen: Yes - many companies struggle to embed purpose in their business and brands in a meaningful way and part of this is because they haven’t crystallised it. A good exercise is to define your brand’s ‘best self’ - what useful contribution does your brand make when it performs at its best? 


Last question - any New Year’s Resolutions for 2021? 

Both: I don’t make them! 

Rebecca: I feel they set unrealistic expectations and pile on more pressure, when for most of us, there’s already enough going on! Instead, I like to think about my vision for the next few years and what I can do this year towards those goals. 

Stephen: I believe it’s more important to regularly take stock and evaluate your behaviour – and make that change immediately. But I would make a New Year’s wish - and that would be for everyone to get vaccinated! Nothing is more important in 2021. 


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Distillery, Fri, 22 Jan 2021 11:01:24 GMT