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Purpose before profits

Purpose is the incentive that sparks emotions and that is the driver that ultimately leads to loyal customers and employees

Elena Arau | 15th April 2016

A review from Elena on this fascinating subject.

Earlier this week, I attended a workshop hosted by Henley Business School on ‘Purpose Before Profits’ hosted by Jennifer Layne Duhon, Head of Brand Strategy and Stewardship at one of our clients, Shell.

Jennifer’s desire for creating meaningful brands that focus on purpose before any business impetus reminded me why I started working in marketing in the first place. With over 20 years of experience, her passion seems as intense as if she had just started yesterday, truly inspiring!

What the marketing and communications departments usually struggle with is the difficulty in measuring the effectiveness of a campaign in a way that the business-minded people or left-brainers in their organisation understand it. Marketing campaigns are usually a long term commitment and consistency and cohesion in your message is what usually drives performance and ultimately sales.

A company that only focuses on B2B or B2G can’t perform to its full potential. Purpose is needed to reach your employees (B2E) and your consumers (B2C). Purpose is the incentive that sparks emotions and that is the driver that ultimately leads to loyal customers and employees.

Building a successful campaign means you need to know your audience very well and clearly define what their needs, aspirations and values are and find a message that will appeal to them in a unique way. A message that will set you apart from your competitors and will not only add value to your brand but will define it. For example, Shell has their logo on a Philippine banknote. That is, because in the Philippines people refer to gas/petrol/fuel as Shell. In Romania people refer to sports shoes as Adidas. This is when a brand becomes more than a brand. It becomes the definition or standard for a range of products.


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People go to work with a different mentality when the brand they represent gives them something to believe in and has a purpose that is aligned with their own values. They become loyal to that brand. It is therefore crucial to do rigorous research as a company before defining your key messages.

Leading companies are encouraging the idea of what Shell calls ‘Purpose Before Profits’ – achieving sustainable growth by ‘growing a conscience and profiting from purpose’, which involves communicating the brand strategy to all stakeholders.  Jennifer Layne Duhon has championed the customer experience for clients all over the world through the ‘purpose before profits’ mantra. Her passion and focus is on relationships, modelling her approach on three words - ‘relevance, respect, and resolve’.


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Translation of internal health & safety related communication, training and leadership training materials.

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