Change always begins with the individual. That’s a fact or a cliché depending on your mood. Here’s another one. Purpose in business is the new digital, the new black or the next new coffee. Whatever, it’s more important than ever. This week the conversation about purpose has ratcheted up showing us that businesses who are socially aware and advocacy centric, are demanding attention good or bad. Brands and leaders with purpose who can articulate their values simply can demand action now. Just look at Nike.
Nike is a brand tattooed in American history but not one without press backlash at times. But at their centre there has always been a story. Nike made heritage a key part of their internal culture and that culture has always been about getting stuff done and making sure the business operated with the word ‘team’ at its core. Sure they’ve ridden the rollercoaster of corporate ups and downs, rights and wrongs, wins and losses but as a brand they have always understood teamwork – or rather being committed and upholding promises. No athlete or team in history has ever stood on top of a podium without taking risks, making sacrifices, being brave and keeping their purpose under a spotlight.
Anyway all PR is good PR. Traditionally politics has always been bad for business but things are changing and as consumers we make a choice as to whose side we are on. Social media amplifies that choice. So should companies avoid controversy? Brands we have an emotional attachment to tend to win when they step into an emotional conversation, but make no mistake taking that step takes subtlety and strategy.
The Kaepernick campaign will go down in history as one of the marketing plays of the decade. Nike have two core targets – athletes and millennials. Their latest campaign not only gets behind who they are as a brand but who their core customer is. Millennials stand up for what they believe in.
No matter. Regardless of whether we think this campaign is right or wrong, we are all talking about it and isn’t that the point? Businesses and leaders must develop a purpose now and stand by it no matter what. Like Nike always said; “Just do it.”