Advertising with purpose

Published on August 31, 2023   16 min
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My name is Thomas Kolster. I am the CEO and founder of the Goodvertising Agency, and I have been in the purpose space for more than two decades. Today what I will share with you is really what I see as two quite different ways of finding your purpose. I'll share those two methodologies with you, and then it's up to you to decide which one makes the best fit for you.
Let me put purpose into a historic perspective before we go into the two different approaches. The purpose discussion became much more dominant on the back of the financial crisis in 2007. This was when more companies started to look for purpose, to engage people around something bigger than just profit, profit, profit. I think people, at the time, saw how brands had failed, failed them, and obviously, brands were trying to engage people and regain trust. This was also around the time that my first book, Goodvertising, came out. In that book, I had a thesis around how, if you were doing good for people and the planet, it was also good for the brand and bottom line. At that time, there was a shift in how you started portraying and differentiating products. In the beginning, it was very much around what I would call USP, so unique selling proposition. This was at a time when it made sense, for example, to talk about a toothpaste that might make your teeth more white, or which might be a more cheap option. That would be your unique selling proposition. Then what we started seeing was emotional selling propositions, when we started to make brands give the more human characteristics, such as, for example, a BMW, which was more of a masculine driving machine, so you'd feel more like a real man at that time. When purpose suddenly started entering the discussion, it was certainly a different way of positioning your company. One of the people who really popularized the concept around purpose was Simon Sinek, in his book Start With Why. In that book, he really began to talk about the soul of the business, and why you weren't buying the product or the service, but why the company was doing it. It was much more around the soul of the company, the values that were, in fact, differentiating.