Brands can change the world

Individuals can now do what companies used to do; Companies now do what countries used to do; What can you do? As communicators, we have the potential to change the world.

This was not always my view. In 2000, when I joined my brother in our business, we had naturally fallen into what we were good at but both had the view that it was short term. Really, we wanted to do something very meaningful and we assumed that would need to be outside of our work; some type of mission – building houses for the poor or something. Although we always ran the business with genuine intentions and honesty, after a few years it began to feel like a trap; the deeper we got into it, the more uncomfortable and less important it felt, and the further it seemed from our original, wider goal.

While visiting a doctor I had an unexpected deep-and-meaningful conversation on this topic, while he jabbed me multiple times with needles. I’ve always had huge respect for doctors; it’s a job I could never do. I was explaining that this is because doctors bring only good and positive change into people’s lives (apart from the pain he was inflicting at the time!), they can completely transform people’s existence. Their work has undeniable meaning – literally life and death. Marketing, on the other hand, is Consumerism’s shouty cousin, Art’s embarrassing neighbour, Psychology’s unreliable friend. I felt that marketing could be the first industry crossed off the list if we had to remove something from the world. To my surprise the doctor disagreed – he considered marketers able to bring joy and pleasure through beautiful design and, more importantly, to help others communicate and to connect. He picked up a scalpel, so I stopped asking questions as I thought it wise he focused! That was about 7 years ago and it was the beginning of a journey of realising and understanding the full impact and meaning that our industry can bring to the world and to people’s lives. I’m definitely not comparing medicine with marketing on an equal par, but I no longer feel saddened or embarrassed by what we do, I feel excited by the possibilities.

It was natural to encourage our clients to communicate honestly and transparently. Without a definition for it, we had always operated our business ‘consciously’, always looking for the best outcome for us and the team, our suppliers our clients, it was always ‘win-win’. But over the last three years we’ve been on a journey, we wanted to take these innate ideas and understand them deeply, to see how this belief, truth and discipline can change the way we and others work. We concentrated on the best of our industry and the meaningful, innovative ideas of others. We want business as a whole to acknowledge the responsibility it holds and provide both reasons and ways to address this positively. The result now is that we’re focused on our clients’ (and our own) purpose above profit – not just in how we communicate but also in what they, and we, do. This approach is bringing us in contact with other likeminded companies, all committed to making the world a better place, in whatever way they can. We now understand how this can help our customers, sure, but more, how it can change the (their) world, for good. An idea where everyone wins – the ‘win-win-win-win-win-win’.

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