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Why we must unite brands with purpose

By Judy Njino
Wednesday, January 20th, 2021 00:00 | 2 mins read
United Nations. Photo/Courtesy

Does your business have the ability to change the world?  Sustainability is rapidly becoming fundamental for most, if not all, customer-centric businesses. 

Since the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals were adopted in 2015, there has been a rise in sustainability consciousness at both brand and consumer level.  

We have witnessed how sustainability awareness across various societies has increased, during the Covid-19 pandemic over the last nine months.

This is attributed to the environmental and social indicators, that are at the forefront of the international arena, showcasing the need for businesses to prioritise long-term sustainability over short term gains.  

At the onset of the pandemic, as people stayed at home, pollution plummeted, demonstrating how much influence human activities really had on the environment.

People took to social media with images of smog-free skies and a crystal-clear Nairobi skyline. 

Rethink purpose

Supply chains were unexpectedly put on the spotlight, as customers began to pay closer attention to how brands handled their employees and sourced their commodities.  

Simultaneously, the pandemic has assessed the genuine commitment by businesses to stick by their values and rekindled internal dialogues about the benefits of engaging in responsible business practices. 

Good communication and noble intentions are no longer sufficient as businesses ought to recognise the need to act responsibly.

Globally, consumers are making buying decisions based on a sense of shared value and purpose. 

Tomorrow’s consumers want to be in the centre of brands with which they can connect, know where the products are sourced from and align with their personal values.

The bottom line is that having purpose is good business, for now and the future. 

In the past, companies used to position brands through advertising in a consistent and visually compelling manner.

Now, brands have recognised the value of building experiences. Consumers deserve experiences that are not just efficient but help make their lives more meaningful.  

In a bid to build back better, the UN Global Compact is calling on the private sector to unite in this decade of action.

Companies are called to rethink their purpose in the world and communities they operate in and be the powerful force for good.

Ultimately, putting purpose over profit is critical for business resilience and placing the Sustainable Development Goals  at the core of branding and marketing conversations, is also important to the companies’ overall performance.   

Marketing can promote sustainable growth through the creation of meaningful experiences at the nexus of purpose and innovation. 

Sustainability is no longer an option but a business imperative across all sectors, company sizes and geographical locations.

Brands that do not change course, will not be able to recover, particularly as technological advancements lower the price of sustainable goods and services and enhance the transparency of corporate sustainability initiatives. 

The coronavirus pandemic has provided brands, particularly those initially reluctant to follow in the footsteps because of cost, the opportunity for a do-over to embed sustainability fully within the organization, from supply chain to products and services. 

In 2021, we anticipate emerging technologies to boost the corporate sustainability capabilities, and economic incentives will continue to make sustainability a viable investment.  

The year promises creation of greater initiatives, not just by individual brands but from a group of companies as we race to right our quickly tipping world. 

— The writer is the Executive Director of Global Compact Network Kenya — [email protected]

Judy Njino

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