In October 2008, Jim Stengel shocked the marketing world by leaving his prestigious role as Global Marketing Officer at Procter & Gamble, one of the most admired brand building companies in the world. This bold move was Jim’s first step on a new mission to share his passion for growing business through a focus on higher ideals.
To continue on his mission, Jim has embraced a variety of exciting roles: President/CEO of The Jim Stengel Company, LLC, author of Grow: How Ideals Power Growth and Profit at the World’s Greatest Companies, speaker with the Washington Speakers Bureau®, adjunct professor at the UCLA Anderson School of Management and Chairman of the Advisory Board at purpose activation company in/PACT.
I’ve had the pleasure of working with Jim at in/PACT and Super Bowl 50 during which time I’ve been inspired by his views on “doing good and doing well”. Here are some insights around purpose that Jim recently shared with me.
Q: Why do you believe “purpose is the management philosophy of the 21st century”?
Because it works! Purpose drives growth, and growing the top line is the major challenge of today’s large enterprises.
The best brands are built around a purpose to improve people’s lives and make the world a better place. And brands that are guided by a higher purpose resonate more with consumers and outperform their category competitors. I wrote about it in my book, Grow: How Ideals Power Growth and Profit at the World’s Greatest Companies, and we backed it up with a major study of 50,000 brands globally.
A recent large-scale study by Millward Brown Vermeer found that the brands that grew the most value from 2006-2015 had purpose at their center. In fact, their growth in value was +297% greater than the average.
Purpose makes an impact inside the organization as well. Particularly with recruiting and retaining talent. And this is critical: a recent Accenture study found that only 15% of recent college grads preferred to work at a large company.
Every team culture starts with the tone leadership sets, and it spreads throughout the organization. When everyone internalizes and then amplifies the brand purpose, brands begins to accelerate. Today’s talent want to work for a company that is aligned with their ideals. When employees are proud of the work they do, they become better employees, and more importantly, energized, inspired and productive employees. Purpose will drive that.
Q: Which brands are best at embracing this purposeful philosophy and providing inspiration for others?
A great example of this is Google. Their purpose is to make the world’s information accessible. We see this play out in the driverless cars, which makes everyday transportation an option for more people; Project Loon, providing Internet to the most remote countries of the world; Project Iris, allowing diabetics to monitor their blood sugar from a contact lens. It’s a powerful purpose making an impact on our lives every day.
Q: Do you believe purpose-centered brands should engage in meaningful collaborations with aligned organizations to help activate purpose?
Yes—but it needs to be the right fit. Chevrolet’s commitment to enriching people’s lives by inspiring them to explore what’s possible is brought to life in a unique way through their partnership with One World Play Project. With a shared belief that through “play” all things are possible, the two organizations have already improved the lives of some 48 million people living in difficult situations around the world. Patagonia is another strong example. The company donates 1% of its sales to groups and projects that preserve the Earth’s natural environment—which is the playground for Patagonia’s loyal consumers—the explorers. If the partnership isn’t the right fit, it is not authentic. And consumers notice.
Q: What is an example of a brand empowering those they serve to engage in purposeful activation?
When Paul Polman began as CEO at Unilever, he went back to the company’s roots to discover the reason why the company was founded. It was all about making cleanliness commonplace. You see that purpose live out in each of its brands today: to spread health and wellness to consumers, but also to make the world a healthier and happier place to live. Through Unilever’s Project Sunlight, consumers join the movement by participating in acts big and small. The initiative helps consumers engage by sharing meals, purchasing sustainable products, teaching children how to conserve water and recycle. Every little act makes a huge difference.
Resonate? If this all resonates with you I’d love to have a discussion around how you can embed purpose in your organisation or sponsorship as a key strategic business driver.
Contact me at e-mail or +1 415 815 7620.