Strategic Marketing: Brands Consider the Power of Purpose

by Diana Drake

Each year Larry Fink, the chairman and CEO of BlackRock, the world’s largest asset management firm, writes a letter to CEOs discussing forces that are fundamentally changing finance.

Amidst a business landscape of sound environmental, social and governance (ESG) practices and policies and post-pandemic unrest, Fink wrote in his 2022 letter: “It’s never been more essential for CEOs to have a consistent voice, a clear purpose, a coherent strategy, and a long-term view…putting your company’s purpose at the foundation of your relationships with your stakeholders is critical to long-term success.”

At the Center of Strategy

That message resonated with Patti Williams, a Wharton School marketing professor who teaches a course on strategic brand management to undergraduate and MBA students and studies consumer behavior. She refers to Fink’s letter in the intro of her latest co-authored academic research paper about what brand purpose means for the consumers who actually buy and use those brands.

Dr. Patti Williams talks to high school students.

Dr. Williams met with a group of Wharton Global Youth Program students visiting Wharton’s campus in Philadelphia, to discuss the concept of brand purpose and how it is changing the way companies strategize and connect with their customers. For one, it is sitting more at the center of corporate strategy, rather than alongside it. And it looks different than the business commitment to corporate social responsibility, or CSR.

“Every marketer out there is talking about brand purpose these days,” said Dr. Williams, a consumer psychologist who studies the thought process behind people’s purchase choices. “Do they have one? Does it need to be rewritten? What should it be if they’re in the process of doing it? I had the CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) for JPMorgan Chase in my [MBA] class. They just rewrote their brand purpose because it’s super important.”

So, what’s all the fuss about? Dr. Williams, inspired by her own research and questions from the high school students in her session, offered 10 truths about brand purpose and why marketers (brand manager) are thinking deeply about brand strategy and how and why their brands hold meaning for consumers:

1️⃣ First, a definition. Much like human purpose, brand purpose is aspirational. It looks to connect people with each other and the larger world and make consumers feel happy, satisfied and aligned with their personal goals. Dr. Williams and her co-authors define it like this: “A brand’s purpose is a long-term, central aim that is a predominant component of its identity, meaning structure, and strategy, which leads to productive engagement with some aspect of the world that transcends the brand’s profits.”

2️⃣ Brand purpose is rising in prominence because countries around the world trust business (often more than government), and consumers want businesses to lead change. “Consumers expect businesses to step in and solve problems,” said Williams, who is also vice dean of Wharton Executive Education. “They expect businesses to care about the world and to have some understanding of the impact that they might have on the world.”

3️⃣ Consumers and employees care about values. “Increasingly, consumers say that they buy based on their values and what really matters to them,” noted Williams. “They’re asking brands and marketers to have values and to articulate those values back to them as consumers. Relatedly, employees want to have purpose. They want to feel that their work has meaning and significance and matters in the world in ways that make them want to get up out of bed in the morning and go to their jobs.”

4️⃣ People feel closer to companies these days and have direct brand influence. “All of these brands have social media accounts. It is easy for you to complain about brands and have lots of people see it,” said Professor Williams. “Your ability as an individual or random person to drive the news and insights about those brands and whether or not they live up to what they’re saying has increased.”

5️⃣ But…are companies truly purpose-driven or are they just purpose-washing? That is the question on the minds of consumers. “As much as I’m going to tell you that consumers want brands to have an authentic purpose, consumers are incredibly skeptical,” noted Williams. “When brands say they have it, we don’t necessarily believe them. Is this just a marketing message?”

6️⃣ Brand purpose in organizations comes with a range of authenticity. “It’s easy to say you have a purpose and then not ever do anything, or have that purpose be a little bit on the side,” said Williams. “It might be easier when you’re starting a new company. A young, visionary entrepreneur might have a sense of what that purpose is and how it relates back to his value proposition. But what do I do if I’ve been around for 150 years as a company and I never had a purpose? And now, I suddenly write one down. Does that feel authentic to you? No, right? The market is forcing you and you don’t really believe it. You’re just trying to check a box. A lot of older companies are really struggling with this concept of purpose.”

7️⃣ Companies can do a few things to build more effective brand purpose. “First, articulate a purpose that is meaningful, true and unique. If you want it to be part of your value proposition, then it has to be a compelling differentiator in the marketplace,” noted Williams. “Second, does this purpose just live in advertising, or are the CEO, the CFO and the COO also talking about purpose? Is it relevant to the culture and is it 360-executed? Make sure it doesn’t live in that one little vertical within the organization. And finally, maybe you’re interested in starting a movement. Maybe you would like to amplify that purpose – tell consumers what your purpose is and attract people who have a similar purpose. Together, you can do more good in the world.”

8️⃣ For some companies, purpose is the whole reason their brand exists. “There are a handful of companies that are on a mission to actually infuse their purpose across the world,” said Dr. Williams. “Patagonia is in the business to save the planet; it is at the top of what they’re doing. They are also amplifying their purpose. They want you to come and join the movement. They will tell you not to buy new. They will sell you something used. They also do advocacy, creating tools for grassroots activists to try to get them involved in the broader mission of saving the planet.”

9️⃣ Not all brands are created equal when it comes to purpose – and implementation at the organization level can be challenging. “Not every country cares about brand purpose as much as others, which might depend on the state of development of the country,” said Williams. “Young people care about it more than older adults, but not exclusively. And not every ecosystem is ready. It’s easier to articulate a purpose than to change the culture. If everybody doesn’t buy in, or there aren’t incentives aligned with it, it’s going to be hard to do anything, even if you have really good intentions.”

🔟 Brands need to think beyond articulating purpose and spreading it throughout the organization. “How will they measure that purpose?” asked Williams. “PayPal became concerned when they realized that a significant portion of their employees, particularly at the lowest levels of the organization, were struggling to make ends meet, despite the fact that the company was paying what they thought were wages at market rate. They believed their purpose was to improve the financial health of their customers. If they couldn’t improve the financial health of their employees, were they living up to that purpose? Now they have a net disposable income calculator for each of their employees. They might lower the costs of their internal medical benefits, raise wages, help people engage in financial planning, so that their net disposable income gets improved.”

Professor Williams is already thinking about new directions for her brand-purpose research. For example, do brands with clear purpose become more profitable? And, do consumers believe that when they buy from a brand with purpose, they are aligning with their own personal values and influencing their own sense of purpose? You can check on the progress of her latest research HERE. In the meantime, how will you apply lessons in brand purpose to your future in marketing and business?

Conversation Starters

What’s your purpose statement? If you’re still trying to figure out the essence of what drives you, this article is proof that you are not alone. In a past Global Youth interview, CEO Sesha Dhanyamraju talks about writing his first purpose statement in his early 20s. “I still vividly remember that purpose statement. It was to live my life in such a way that I would help each and every person in my sphere of influence realize their full potential. When I’m in doubt, I go back to that purpose statement and basically ask myself the question: ‘Am I living that purpose or not?’ Can you write your own purpose statement in one sentence? Share your statement and why you chose it in the comment section of this article.

How does buying products from a company with deep purpose, like Patagonia, make you feel about your own sense of purpose? Do you seek out companies that align with your core values and your personal beliefs?

What is your favorite purpose-driven brand and why?

13 comments on “Strategic Marketing: Brands Consider the Power of Purpose

  1. Purpose is something everyone looks for in their lives, but when companies use it, it can be for good or for bad.
    As seen in the reasoning of this article, purpose brings people together, and when companies use this, it promotes the brand.
    When purpose is used in the sense of building a community dedicated to helping and building this purpose, it is powerful. Not only this, but it creates an impact.
    But, ill-eyed companies who look only to make a profit may use purpose to mislead consumers, which undermines its value. This relates to point five, which also states that using a purpose as a marketing tool undermines ALL companies’ missions.

    So, I urge all future entrepreneurs reading this to use purpose wisely and not abuse human nature because karma will hit back.

  2. One thing I know for sure is that purpose is not going anywhere. This push for having it in all companies regardless of whether or not it is “authentic” shines a light on a world that can look bleak. While not all companies will truly live up to their publicized goals, it helps to think of many that we trust in our community and country like Apple or Walmart. As I go to bed tonight wearing my old and worn-out Patagonia sweater, I’ll sleep a little easier knowing that those companies I considered money-hungry might be humane, run by people just like me: heroes.

  3. Everything said about purpose in this article is so true! I strongly believe that in order to be successful, companies must remain self-aware of their purpose and personality. I always make sure to be aware of this when doing work for my online boutique. I think this sense of brand purpose can also go hand in hand with consumer psychology, as being a consumer, I am personally more likely to stay loyal to a brand that is consistent across varying categories.

  4. The overarching purpose of any company is to “change the culture” and align it in a direction that leads to profit and publicity. Good publicity is brought about by doing good work, which is widely acknowledged. However, when it comes to profits, the question arises: Can they also be generated by doing good work? After reading this article, I find myself on the fence about it because profits are dependent on aspirations. Marketers and business owners have the same goal as they did eons ago: to aspire and sell aspirations, which is a sure method to generate profits. Aspirations change over time, so I believe a company’s purpose should align with the current aspirations of the market. Presently, the current aspiration and need of the hour is sustainability and honesty. Given the climate crisis cries and the rise in fraudulent businesses, it is crucial for a brand’s purpose to echo sustainability and honesty in both words and actions.

  5. The word purpose has a vast spectrum that can be measured differently by every being present. Purpose could mean something for someone and another thing for someone else. But even after having different opinions, I think everybody does have a purpose and as mentioned in this particular article purpose has been on the minds of companies as appealing to the consumer In ways which align with the company’s beliefs and purpose is a necessity. Purpose creates a brand and the brand determines the life of the product. Resonance of consumers’ culture in the brand can determine the life of the product in the market.

  6. In today’s society, where money holds immense value, many individuals aspire to achieve success through entrepreneurship. Starting a business is seen as a reliable pathway to achieving this goal. However, what factors contribute to a company’s success? In this article, Dr. Williams emphasizes the importance of establishing a clear vision and purpose for a firm as the key to running a successful business. The article argues that stakeholders have their own values, and aligning those values with the company’s vision and purpose is crucial.
    After reading this article, I was reminded of my personal experience selling tomatoes. During my freshman year in science class, I watched a documentary about the contamination of the James River in Virginia caused by pesticide leakage from a nearby factory. Witnessing the devastating impact of pesticides on the environment left a profound impact on me and sparked my interest in environmental protection.
    Motivated to contribute to environmental conservation, I decided to sell home-raised crops, specifically tomatoes. Tomatoes were an ideal choice, as they required minimal time and effort to grow from seedlings. Over the next three months, I dedicated myself to nurturing the tomato plants, providing regular watering, and ensuring they received sufficient sunlight. Once the tomatoes had fully grown, I ventured to a local market to sell them. Although I was initially concerned about competition from other fruit vendors, my organic tomatoes turned out to be one of the best-selling products, selling out by noon. This success demonstrated that the absence of chemicals held significant value for customers, surpassing mere price considerations. After thinking about how to utilize the profit, I decided to donate it to an environmental organization called Rainbow World. The entire process was driven by the motive of environmental conservation, and I wanted the funds to be directed toward a cause aligned with that motive.
    In the realm of agriculture, advancements in technology have led to the development of genetically modified organism (GMO) crops with enhanced features. Given that many consumers prioritize economic efficiency, GMO crops have gained widespread preference worldwide. In contrast, organic crops, which abstain from the use of chemical fertilizers, are generally more expensive. However, my experience selling tomatoes taught me that price is not the sole determinant of consumer choices. Despite their lower efficiency, organic crops offer the advantage of environmental protection. Thus, consumers who prioritize nature over price tend to favor organic crops. This experience highlighted the need for firms to understand their target customers’ values and adapt accordingly. As the article emphasizes, consumers increasingly base their purchasing decisions on their values and expect brands to align with and articulate those values.
    In today’s context, eco-friendly products are highly valued due to escalating global pollution. However, this preference has given rise to phenomena like “greenwashing” and “green hushing.” The most concerning aspect of these phenomena is that they deceive customers. Producing materials harmful to the environment is already problematic, but misleading consumers is even worse. It directly undermines the key factor in business: establishing trust between the firm and its stakeholders. As Professor Williams aptly states, “While consumers desire brands to have an authentic purpose, they remain highly skeptical.
    The preservation of the environment is of utmost importance, as its restoration becomes increasingly challenging once damaged. Unfortunately, environmental pollution continues to worsen globally, with factors like the use of fertilizers contributing to incidents like the pollution of the James River. Firms play a significant role in addressing these problems, as their influence on consumers is crucial. Therefore, analyzing stakeholders’ needs, establishing a clear vision, and making a positive impact are vital for success. Establishing a clear vision and purpose, aligned with stakeholders’ values, is essential for running a successful business. Reflecting on my experience selling tomatoes, I learned the significance of factors beyond price, such as environmental considerations, in consumers’ decision-making processes. Moreover, businesses must not only prioritize profits but also contribute to environmental preservation. Transparency and authenticity are crucial to building trust with consumers and ensuring long-term success. By understanding stakeholders’ needs and adapting to them, firms can make a positive difference and thrive in today’s competitive landscape.

    • Hi Yehoon! I really enjoyed reading your comment about your tomato-growing venture. I’m impressed that you were able to grow tomatoes and then sell them at a local market. Very cool. I would love to hear more about how you learned to grow the tomatoes and then navigate the selling of them. Did you run into any setbacks? It would be awesome to see some photos! I agree with what you said about transparency and authenticity being the key to earning the trust of consumers. In fact, when I think about that idea, it is probably a good mantra for life in general, and one that can certainly be applied to other areas. For example, when I think about my relationships with other people, I always value those people who are honest and genuine in who they are and are willing to share their lived experiences. As part of my commitment to the community, I volunteer with elderly people in my broader neighborhood who need companionship or help running errands. I thrive on hearing their stories about their colorful lives, and sharing with them a bit about mine. By sharing our true stories, we build trust and, ultimately, a relationship. So thanks for sharing your story about the tomatoes! It made me appreciate your thoughts and ideas. And you’ve inspired me to think about ways I can grow my own food at home and have an impact on the environment as well as local food supplies.

  7. I completely agree with the ideas in this article. The increasing prominence of brand purpose in today’s dynamic business landscape reflects the growing consumer demand for companies that embody their values and make a positive impact on the world. However, as the article points out, not all brand purposes are the same, and establishing an authentic purpose can look different based on the industry and company.

    What struck me as particularly intriguing is the prevalence of brand purposes in contemporary business practices, even amongst companies that have operated without a clear purpose for many decades. This presents a unique challenge for well-established corporations that have thrived for decades with profit maximization as their primary driving force. Such companies find themselves at a crossroads, as they must decide whether to forgo a brand purpose, risking the loss of customers to purpose-driven competitors, or initiate the challenging endeavor of crafting a purpose and face potential skepticism regarding authenticity. In contrast, brand purpose can be an advantageous tool for smaller start-ups, allowing them to leverage their purpose as a foundation for building a devoted customer base.

    In my view, the most effective approach for addressing the challenge faced by large corporations in defining their brand purpose lies in the creation of smaller goals interconnected by a unifying theme, rather than pursuing a singular, all-encompassing purpose for the entire company. By adopting this strategy, companies can navigate the complexities of purpose creation, establishing credibility, and building authentic connections with their customers.

    Breaking down the brand purpose into smaller, tangible goals enables companies to focus their efforts on specific areas that resonate with their target audience. These goals can serve as touchpoints for demonstrating the company’s commitment to a particular cause or value, fostering trust and engagement. Secondly, a theme-based approach provides flexibility and adaptability, allowing companies to respond to evolving societal needs and expectations. By aligning their purpose with relevant themes, companies can authentically demonstrate their dedication to addressing specific challenges, fostering a sense of shared purpose with their customers.

    Overall, the concept of brand purpose has become an integral part of contemporary business strategies, driven by consumer demands for companies that match their values. However, the journey to establishing an authentic brand purpose is not uniform across all organizations. While well-established corporations may face challenges in creating an authentic purpose due to their historical focus on profit, smaller start-ups in tune with eco-friendly industries often possess a natural advantage. By adopting a strategic approach of defining smaller goals built around a unifying theme, large corporations can authentically address the demands of purpose-driven consumers and foster long-term success in an ever-evolving business landscape.

  8. I agree with Dr. William’s take on the importance of a company’s purpose. But in my opinion, purpose, as used in most companies, is perhaps much more different than what the individual consumer perceives. For many companies, especially existing ones, the use of purpose is, as mentioned in Point 5, to differentiate itself from its competitors. However, when this becomes the sole reason for a purpose, it becomes insincere. This insincerity could be especially prevalent in businesses like the fast food industry.
    I remember watching the documentary, Supersize Me 2: Holy Chicken! directed by Morgan Spurlock in middle school. Following the success of his film Super Size Me, a movie famous for its influence on the public’s awareness on the ethics of the fast food industry, he investigates the recent claims of fast food becoming more organic and healthier. With this premise in mind, he attempts to open his own chicken sandwich restaurant to investigate the “truth” behind the modern chicken industry. In one particularly striking scene, he juxtaposes the definitions of commonly used buzzwords by the consumers to its actual meaning. For example, he asked pedestrians what the word “humanely raised” meant. Many answered with their own definition and beliefs of how a chicken should be raised ethically, but in reality the FDA actually allows the producers to define “humanely raised.” This enables the chicken industry to be able to bend its own definition of humane as it befits their own practices, whether how committed they really are, and yet still be able to raise the price of their produce. Spurlock continues with words like “cage-free,” “all natural” and “no hormones added,” and produces similar results that once again illustrates the legal loopholes and flimsy guidelines that companies can abuse. These low legal hurdles allow companies to align their purpose with consumers in wordplay only.
    The corruption of “purpose” has allowed many corporations to not necessarily have to prioritize the morals and values of its consumers to be able to accomplish the same profits and results. Additionally, the existence of such misleading perceptions of, say, being a rising pioneer of ethical chicken farms in a veteran chicken corporation could actually compete with new entrepreneurs that truly desire an ethical chicken farm. The potential for veteran companies to be able to compete on even ground with newer companies that are more committed in their purposes is quite frustrating. I disagree with the notion that a company must have an overarching purpose to be vital for success; The ability to be perceived as committing to a purpose is a more influential tool.
    However, I completely agree that the coming generations of consumers, including me, are preferring companies that have a purpose that they want to contribute to. The rising movement of many companies, especially veteran ones, adopting pledges of environmentally-friendly, humane and charitable practices are proof enough of this. But being more ethical or charitable may be proof, but it doesn’t sell products unless people know about it. Word of mouth is powerful, and there is a balance to strike between doing good things because you’re good-natured and (as a business) making damn sure that your goodness is highly visible.
    Unfortunately, I feel many companies have adopted “purpose”, not for representation, but as a way to appeal to its consumers over its competition. Maximizing profits is still a priority over committing to a lofty purpose. But this movement of companies proves the power of the consumers’ values to influence companies. Though I am cynical of a company’s “purpose”, I am sure glad that I can be a part of a generation of consumers that advocates for issues like global sustainability and equity, and have it echoed by companies, whether it be sincere or not. After all, even if companies are being inauthentic and doing good things just to get more sales, (something we say of individuals that it is the right thing for the wrong reason), companies are not individuals. If a company contributes to the public good to get more sales, then at least the consumer is supporting a company that does good things.

  9. I totally agree with Dr. William’s and her research. I feel as though the more aware an individual is, the more intentionality of brands they see. Branding has gotten to be so good that most of the times we are rarely aware of their existence. A classic example is how most U.S customers will choose an Apple product over Samsung or Android any day of the week, due to Apple’s superior branding. More personally however, when my sister went shopping and decided to go to Sephora over Macy’s. Logically, there is more value at Macy, however since Sephora’s brand is stronger and vibrant, my sister subconsciously went with the better brand. That is how relevant and influential I believe brands are in our everyday lives, constantly affecting the decisions we make.

  10. Purpose, the combination of aspiration and incentive, has a tremendous impact on determining the extent of prosperity a firm can reach while encouraging individuals to strive for their own goals. Dr. Williams, resonating with this, reinforced the significance of a brand having a purpose when selling its products.

    As Dr. Williams demonstrated, nowadays, customers tend to purchase products with purposes that align with their values while also assessing the reliability of a company’s position. Likewise, employees need a purpose for their diligence beyond the inspiration that an income brings – everyone was born to do something, an ambition to create change, and individuals’ drives are maximized when they know they’re doing something meaningful. This way, a company’s purpose is a common goal that unites both the company and its customers, and the company’s mission is not one it can realize alone. Specifically, the positive relationship between the customers and company is reinforced when a company is aware of the importance of the “unity of knowing and doing”. Correspondingly, customers gain a sense of satisfaction as they feel they’re contributing to their personal beliefs by purchasing products that align with them. Nevertheless, if a company only utilizes its “purpose” as a tool to create profit, the negative consequences caused by a crisis in faith of its customers can prove fatal.

    Dr Williams’ perceptions struck a chord with me when I was struggling to decide which shoes to buy. As a customer, I’m passionate about purchasing shoes produced by Nike – not to show off or because I enjoy their performance as a shoe, but because I feel a sense of comfort and familiarity whenever I see that iconic “swoosh” logo. I feel Nike and I are similar: we’re aspirational, always striving to be better, stronger. I think Nike has a unique purpose that’s not contrived, especially when we examine its history.

    Phil Knight, the founder of Nike, was a former track and field runner who’d put tremendous effort into his training, and continuously sold his products despite every barrier the young company faced. He persevered through adversity, never doubting Nike’s ability to “achieve something greater”. It took 16 years for Nike to innovate successful running shoes, and ever since, Nike has never faltered in its journey on providing customers with shoes of great quality. Many athletes have taken on a Nike sponsorship and have gone on to become legendary, inspired by Nike’s story and their own ambition. One of Phil Knight’s quotes that really resonates with me in reference to this is said in his biography, Shoe Dog, “There is no destination in our lives. Act is the destination.”

    As a non-native speaker, I used to really struggle performing well in subjects that involved lots of academic terms, like biology. The immense gap between me and fluent English speakers left me frustrated and disillusioned with my own progress. It seemed impossible that I’d ever be able to catch up, but nevertheless, after reading that biography, whenever I saw the Nike swoosh on my shoes or spotted one of their campaigns online or in the stores, I recalled Phil’s experience of being rejected, cheated, but persevering regardless. He achieved success – why can’t I? So, when I feel like I’m facing the impossible, I put on my Nikes and go for a run to clear my mind.

    This year, when I was honored by my school for my excellent grades in all subjects, I reminded myself – “Just Never Stop” – Nike isn’t done yet, and neither am I.

  11. In a country like ours, the First Amendment, which embodies freedom of speech, is deeply valued. It is what has kept our country just in many ways, and it is why people continue to immigrate here.

    Within American school districts, there are frequent school board meetings dedicated to allocating district funds, resolving any issues, and providing updates on curriculums. They serve the students and their education. Yet, each time I have attended these meetings, it is mostly taxpayers and parents who attend these meetings. Only when there are major problems being discussed, such as book bans, that a larger audience is present. Despite the purpose of each meeting, the most important aspect of them is that they’re designed to best support each student that attends the district schools. Yet, students’ voices are missing. For me, I used to not attend school board meetings because no students go, it’s inconvenient as I am loaded with homework, or it is scary in general.

    During my first school board meeting, I was the only student among all adults who were more experienced and knowledgeable than me. I was immediately frightened and unsure of what to say when I went up. I wanted to comment on the school district asking that they provide more opportunities for students to express themselves through their cultures. While voicing my concern, I had to face each and every school board member, who partly looked bored and tired. Up to this point, my past self would have not understood this quote as I felt that my individual voice could not make a meaningful impact.

    After a major issue (the book ban) occurred, I jumped right onto attending more meetings and loudening my voice as a student. This became easier as I developed a support system of teachers, classmates, and friends. The book ban was controversial because the story’s discussion of very real struggles and issues of African American girls, such as sexual assault and parental assault, were continuously being categorized as pornography and excessive violence. Instead of hiding these issues, these problems should be exposed to prevent them in the future.

    To try and overturn the book ban, students came together to organize a peaceful protest that was executed every morning before the school day began. We would hold signs while chanting “Put the books back.” We soon became the face of our school with the media approaching us for interviews and wanting information on the second book ban in two consecutive years.

    The previous year, the school board had promised an equal learning environment as well as more just evaluations with book bans, but the truth was that the second book ban was something that was never meant to be exposed. When our school board said that they want a more transparent learning environment, but then go behind our backs and do this, we begin to question their true motives and what they want. It is because the school board is – at least in part – trying to maintain “safety” that it bans some books in the first place. Unrestricted access and full transparency have no real historical evidence for providing safety–quite the opposite is true. However, transparency is needed to learn and grow. If we are limited in what we learn, then how much more can we as a society truly grow and expand? Transparency leads to growth and maturity, which is what our society needs more than ever.

    After days of waking up way before sunrise and attending hours-long school board meetings, my voice, and many others, as a student was heard. Our goal to have the books put back temporarily to be re-evaluated with the correct policy was achieved, and the policy was also reformed so that one complaint about a book would not affect all students. Students shouldn’t have their right to read taken away from them by another student’s parents. When considering whose voice is important, it is simple: whoever chooses to speak up. No matter whether a politician or a 5-year-old, as long as they make their voices heard, they are one step closer to getting what they want. My brother, who usually wants more time on his iPad, negotiates with my mother that he will eat his food faster when watching YouTube.

    When I replay my activist memories from this year, I think about how personal this quote is to me–starting with one voice, then to a few, then to hundreds and thousands, my club and I were able to hold our school accountable for a ban on a book that was only trying to convey real struggles in our society. We played a role in determining the reputation of our school and whether or not they lived up to the standards they set for themselves. Now, more than ever, we should embrace our First Amendment rights as they hold so much power–words hold so much power. PARU has won only one small battle in a society that does things like plan bans on teaching LGBTQ+ content. There is more work to be done, and this quote embodies that it is the time to do so now.

  12. Each year, Larry Fink, the chairman and CEO of BlackRock, the world’s largest asset management firm, pens a letter to CEOs addressing the transformative forces reshaping finance. In his 2022 letter, amidst a landscape emphasizing environmental, social, and governance (ESG) practices and post-pandemic uncertainties, Fink emphasized the need for CEOs to possess a consistent voice, a clear purpose, a coherent strategy, and a long-term perspective. This message resonated with Dr. Patti Williams, a Wharton School marketing professor, who integrates Fink’s insights into her research on brand purpose. Brand purpose, a central element of corporate strategy, is gaining prominence worldwide as consumers seek businesses to lead positive change, rooted in values. It reflects a shift where consumers and employees prioritize values alignment, and companies must navigate authenticity challenges while building and articulating their purpose. Successful brand purpose extends beyond marketing, impacting the culture, and possibly igniting movements. However, its adoption varies across countries, demographics, and organizational cultures. Beyond articulation, measuring and delivering on purpose becomes paramount, as seen in PayPal’s efforts to improve employees’ financial health. As the concept evolves, research delves into its impact on profitability and consumers’ perception of alignment with personal values. In this ever-changing landscape, individuals are encouraged to reflect on their own purpose statements, a compass guiding their lives.

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