brand purpose

The recent Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity felt at times to be a mix of denial and guilt. There was little talk of some of the seismic challenges facing those in the marketing ecosystem – take your pick from a looming recruitment challenge, questions over trust and a crisis of confidence over marketing’s effectiveness – but plenty of discussion about needing to make a difference.

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It might have had something to do with the vast quantity of rosé being drank on yachts, in villas and on hotel terraces, but brand purpose was a topic returned to up and down Cannes’ Croisette promenade throughout the week. There are many very clever people who have wholly accepted that you have no hope of survival unless you can demonstrate that you are playing a positive role in people’s lives, their communities and in the world at large.

Brand purpose, it seems, is a conversation far from finished. It’s also one that remains deeply polarising. In one corner you have those, many of whom were in Cannes, who believe brand purpose is not only a societal imperative, it is a business necessity; that you are in dereliction of duty if you don’t have an authentic reason to exist. In the other are those who strongly argue that brand purpose is an example of vacuous overreaching by marketers and a massive distraction to the…