Purpose Driven Companies

Purpose Driven Companies

If I hear the term “purpose driven companies” one more time, I think I am going to puke. People use this term as though they have coined a new phrase. They speak to it as though it is a newfound existence, something that companies of today are shifting to, or have just discovered!

Granted, over the centuries, there have been and still are, many companies that focus only on bottom-line profits. They are often short sighted and focus only on their margin versus their staff or the community. But for centuries, smart companies have considered the importance of their staff and community over profits. In fact, in the early 1980s (I am really aging myself), I worked for a division of General Mills Canada—Red Lobster Restaurants of Canada (General Mills no longer owns this chain, but they did when I worked for them). Their philosophy that was drummed into us as management and likewise into our staff was that success came from the inverted pyramid. At the top of the “food chain” (no pun intended) was the customer, below them was the staff, and at the bottom was the shareholder. The philosophy was that if you can make the customers happy (good food, good pricing, clean surroundings, environmentally sound fishing practices, etc.), they will keep coming back, which in turn, will take care of the staff with jobs,  money, and opportunity. If those two are well taken care of, the shareholder will be rewarded with profitability.

Prior to the onslaught of “purpose driven” companies’ monikers, many companies already did this sort of work. Long before the phrase became the term of the decade, RBC, TELUS, Sobey’s and many others were doing all the same great community and advocacy work they are doing now. It’s just that they are now putting a label on it. Often it is not the companies that are giving themselves the label, but the researchers, consultants, and others who want to advise companies on how to be “purpose driven” that push out this name and profile. It is like the Chia Pet or Pet Rocks—putting a marketing name on something that already exists and dressing it up a little. By the time these snake oil salespeople have moved on from the purpose driven companies’ moniker to some new flashy coined term, those great companies will keep doing what they have always done—take care of the communities they serve and beyond.

Benjamin Franklin lived a long time ago (he died in 1790), but he coined the adage “Do well by doing good.” He was telling businesses that it was possible to succeed and profit by performing acts of goodness. Perhaps when we are done with the term “purpose lead companies” or “purpose driven companies,” we could shift to “Franklin Focused Companies.” It may be time for a rebrand soon. What do you think?

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  1. I am no business expert but I think sometimes companies try to cash in on a recent trend just to make money. The new branding of Bud Light comes to mind. I am thinking this might turn out to be the biggest marketing mistake since “New Coke”. For businesses, as in sports, good fundamentals are at the core of success.

    • AMEN my friend!! Well said. How is life back in the east? Brent

      • Part time care giver to Mom & Dad, part time job seeker, part time author, part time golf course marshal and part time PGA Tour caddy (July) :o) And loving the view of Britannia Bay and the Ottawa River from my 15th floor balcony!


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