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The Business Case for Purpose-Led Storytelling


As our first post here on Insights, I thought it would be helpful to address a burning question that has come up more than a handful of times by clients, colleagues and the trusted advisors I have confided in along our journey to become a more purpose-led firm. 

It typically starts like this:  

“This sounds great and all Adam, but why would your clients care about doing more purpose-led storytelling, and what if they don’t consider themselves to be purpose-driven?”

This is a valid question, one that I have put a lot of careful thought into since we began this journey a few years ago. 

Purpose-Led Business is the Future of Business

I think it’s safe to say that we’re living in times of disruptive and accelerated change. Businesses, organizations and nonprofits are faced with some sizeable and serious challenges ahead, ones driven by low-levels of public trust in traditional marketing and advertising. But it’s also being driven by the urgent social, economic and climate challenges of our time, creating new consumer expectations for brands to be better stewards of the world along side growth and profits. 

What’s also important to highlight is the newer, younger workforce that values (and often demands) more flexibility, meaning and purpose in their work over the proverbial paycheck. Becoming purpose-driven will help drive successful recruitment strategies for businesses in the new economy. 

When you think about the state of business and commerce from this view – it starts to frame what is really going to matter to people and in culture in the decades ahead. I’m not saying you should ignore more traditional and well-known marketing and advertising strategies –  such as knowing who your customers are and the true value that your product/service brings to them, this is vital to any successful marketing and communications initiative. Where I am staking my claim – is that it’s not the only thing your customers care about. Taken from the words of Simon Sinek, “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it”, and when people believe in your purpose, they are significantly more likely to buy from you, recommend you to others, work for you, and stand up for you in a crisis.  

The latest research and data is revealing some interesting insights. Check out the Zeno 2020 “Strength of Purpose Study” that was done here. This research sheds new light and unequivocal proof that companies leading with Purpose perform better. The study reveals that when consumers think a brand has a strong purpose, they are:   

  • 4 times more likely to purchase from the company
  • 6 times more likely to protect the company in the event of a misstep or public criticism
  • 4.5 times more likely to champion the company and recommend it to friends and family
  • 4.1 times more likely to trust the company

There are some extraordinary stories of brands that are ahead of this curve and have decided to do good business while doing good for the world, and their customers and stakeholders have reciprocated this action by supporting them with true loyalty –  transforming from customers into a community of advocates. So my question to you is – who wouldn’t want to do business this way? In this day-and-age, businesses can and should be used as a force for good. Balancing purpose and profits should be a key strategic function for success, and we believe it is in their best interest to do so for their future viability. 

If you’re not convinced, take a look at brands like REI, Toms Shoes, Who Gives a Crap, Love Your Melon and Tesla, who are just a few of my favourites (there are so many more)  that are, in my personal opinion, driving the new economy and will endure for decades because of it.


Brand Purpose Storytelling Is the Future of Marketing

So, here is where I’m expecting to get torched by every traditional marketing and advertising firm out there –  but hear me out. Again,  knowing your customers needs, wants and desires and how your product and service meets these is vital to communicate – when the time is right. 

But this is where we think differently. We believe there is a profound opportunity for businesses to not just differentiate themselves in their business category, but break free of their category by transforming their businesses from growth- driven to purpose-driven and leading with great storytelling.

You see, purpose-led brands are so powerful because they solve a problem that aligns with their customers ideology. For example, Dove creates beauty products for Women that are high quality and luxurious. If that’s all Dove communicated in their storytelling, they wouldn’t be very interesting or look much different from the hundreds of competitors in their category. Instead, Dove’s brand purpose and storytelling focuses on empowering Women and champions inclusivity and equality. This motivates their workforce and energizes their customers by addressing a wrong that needs to be right in the world. They stand for what they believe in and their customers reward them for it.  

So, instead of slogging it out – competing against your direct competitors in your category, why not take the bold steps to innovate, transform, break free, lead with purpose and compete in culture.

In Closing 

Our choice to change from a firm providing traditional marketing and advertising services (primarily focused on video production and storytelling) for any brand / businesses, into one that works with and helps purpose-led organizations do better…was a no brainer, and a courageous step in the right direction for Coelement that I am very proud of.  

Will it potentially isolate some of our client base? Most likely, but I also believe it will be an extraordinary opportunity to share these ideas and even help some of our clients understand the power of brand purpose and purpose-led storytelling as a key strategic function for business success. And if we’re fortunate enough, maybe even help them become more purpose-led. What an honour and privilege it would be to partner and travel with them on this path.

Will it be an easy transition? Most likely not and will come with challenges, no doubt. But the beginning of this adventure is showing us we are trending in the right direction and that it’s simply the right thing to do. The outpouring of positivity and encouragement from our clients, our team, family and friends has been overwhelming and a good sign for things to come. 

In the months ahead, we’ll be sharing more thoughts, ideas and inspiring stories about innovative brands and even local businesses living their purpose every day. These stories will further demonstrate how purpose, exemplary action and powerful storytelling can transform your business, which in turn will transform your impact in the world.

Are you thinking of transforming your business to be more purpose-driven? 
We would love to hear your story.