Can a business doing good, be good business?

The Wonderstuff team went to a ‘Design Event’ talk recently where a design agency founder recounted enthusiastically how as a child in the 1970s and 80s, it was the famous logos, films and adverts of the time that encouraged him into a design career.

As a child, I also connected to this visual environment, but was equally interested in the messages and stories brands communicated, and how through persuasion, they tried to encourage interest, impulse to purchase and create awareness. Why should we desire or care? How were we being encouraged to connect on an emotional level.

One of the first brands I felt truly connected to was The Body Shop. As with all perceptions we make of organisations, the person/people (WHO) and the time & place that the touchpoints are experienced (WHEN) is key to the perceptions we make.

So in understanding my connection to The Body Shop, the WHO was a teenager (looking for new ideas and causes), and the WHEN, was a Northern town in the late 1970’s and early 1980s.

The Body Shop articulated a ‘WHY’ at a time when having a cause was important.

This was the time when Glastonbury was CND, Ken was Red and a punk attitude was still in the air. Commentary was King and everything that mattered felt purposeful. Unions .  Making Money .  Spitting Image . Feminism . Max Headroom.

Being a teenager in any era is defined by feelings and emotions, getting united with people who believe the same things as you and wanting to be seen shouting about it – whether music, politics, TV or brands. The channels of communications may be different now than in the 1980s – but fundamentally, on an human level – we are always searching for WHY.

So The Body Shop’s WHY was why I felt connected. For a start, Anita Roddick, the founder of The Body Shop, was a women. A women visible as a trailblazer. A successful business person. A human rights activist. She articulated the impact she wanted to achieve. And not only that – the products and packaging were different.  She made saving the planet fashionable and audiences were devoted – a tribe of believers in The Body Shop Brand.

This powerful purpose was combined with her excellence in business. She started The Body Shop from necessity and not purpose, the name of her original shop due to its position between 2 funeral parlours. She has been quoted as saying her USP for selling cosmetics in reusable bottles – was not to be green, but as it made good business sense.  She combined this good business sense with the messages that mattered to her and that she knew could ride the zeitgeist.

She had the momentum and she utilised it.

In doing this, she shaped the ethical consumerism models that we are more familiar with today.

She believed business should offer a form of moral leadership and that it was a more powerful force in society than religion or government.

Purpose is a powerful way to connect you to your audiences and create deeper and more long lasting relationships. The key to harnessing and making your purpose create a successful business is knowing WHO and WHEN people will be interested in your WHY and HOW this achieves your vision of success.

A note:

Allegedly, Anita’s strong sense of ‘moral outrage’ was awakened when she found a Penguin book about the holocaust aged 11.

If you want to know more about defining your Purpose and how this is Good for your Business.



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