Young Folks

Purpose Conference 2022

5 takeaways from Purpose Conference 2022

In October, I hightailed it to Sydney with a bunch of business buds (looking at you Joel, Sam, Jason and Cam) to attend Purpose Conference. Something magical happens when you step out of the day-to-day and create space to listen, learn and ponder. Often its when we stop or experience change that the ideas start flowing. And after two jam-packed days of soaking up all the insights shared by a plethora of incredible speakers, here are my five key takeaways from Purpose Conference 2022. I’ve framed them as questions to ponder because they deserve more thought and conversation than can be penned in a blog post.

What is the cost of not embedding purpose into business?

Every action (and inaction) has consequences. When building a brand, it’s important to consider the cost of not weaving purpose into your mission, vision, values and day-to-day operations? How do you make sure people remember your brand for the right reasons? And can a lack of purpose (or a misaligned purpose) cause damage to brand reputation?

Speakers at Purpose Conference voiced the importance of embedding purpose into business models and explored how this can create the change we want to see in the world. Supporting their rally cry, research shows people are increasingly demanding more of brands when it comes to being accountable for social and environmental impact — from choosing employers that have aligned values to purchasing from ethical and sustainable brands.

Whether you’re an employee or a founder, take some time to consider what the cost of inaction looks like — without a clearly defined purpose you could be missing out on top talent, sending customers to your competitors, and losing out on securing investment.

If marketing is all about building awareness and influencing behaviour, should marketers use their skills to create the change the world needs? 

This is one that resonated with me big time. With 15 years experience in the marketing and communications game, I’ve seen how powerful marketing can be. It can generate mass awareness, spark movements, and turn ideas into empires. It’s my belief that those who hold its power should use it responsibly.

Since starting Young Folks, it’s been my mission to use marketing as a force for good. In fact, it’s my belief that as a marketer, I’m an activist campaigning for the change I want to see in the world. It was epic to hear from the Steph Curley the Impact and Activism manager at Ben & Jerry’s on how they’re partnering with community groups and grassroots charities and working with them to make a positive impact via Ben & Jerry’s platform. Steph encouraged brands to consider product, owned, earned and paid media as a toolkit that can be leveraged to influence positive change. 

Should brands that make a negative impact (and not take accountability for that) be more heavily regulated?

We have bans on advertising smoking, and regulations on advertising and marketing alcohol and gambling. So should we have regulations on fossil fuel advertising too?

Belinda Nobel from Comms Declare shared examples of absolutely audacious greenwashing in fossil fuel advertising. Unbelievably, Ampol claimed that their fuel is carbon neutral in a marketing campaign in July this year. The worst part about this? Marketing and creative agencies are behind this rubbish.

These unbelievable examples prompted us to consider whether the advertising and marketing campaigns for brands that cause harm should be more heavily regulated. In the face of climate catastrophe, do we need to ban advertising fossil fuel based products like fuel companies?

Belinda also highlighted the F list — an initiative by Comms Declare and Clean Creatives that names and shames agencies who take on fossil fuel clients (and often try to hide their work with these polluters). I’m pleased to say we’re a member of Comms Declare and you’ll never see us on this list.

As brand activism and getting behind social and environmental injustice becomes more prevalent, why are Australian brands ignoring injustice at home?

Claudia Barriga-Larriviere Director of People & Culture at Sendle hosted an incredible panel on representation and diversity with Jarin Baigent Founder of Trading Blak and Jarin Street; Elsa Tuet-Rosenberg, Co-founder and Director, Hue. Colour the Conversation; and Priyanka Ashraf, Founder The Creative Co-operative.

The panel discussion took us on a deep dive into diversity and representation and invited us to consider why so many individuals and brands are so quick to get behind international tragedy but turn a blind eye to the issues that need repairing closer to home.

By way of context, so many Australian brands have gone to enormous lengths to demonstrate their support for the war in Ukraine (which of course, is awful) but remain silent on the vast injustices facing First Nations peoples.

When brands and individuals are considering purpose and alignment of values, the should be careful not to ignore the injustices happening right here.

Why brands should be moving beyond sustainability to regeneration.

Over the past decade, we’ve seen a massive increase in sustainability awareness and the mainstream start to adopt sustainable business practices as the norm. Which is fantastic but… sustainability is primarily about harm minimisation or mitigation.

What the world really needs is regeneration — and more businesses to adopt a regenerative business model. Think of it like this: a sustainable organisation is seeking to reduce its environmental footprint, whereas a regenerative company boldly takes measures to increase its positive social and environmental impact by regenerating the health of individuals, communities and the planet.

As the timeframe to save the world lessens, we need more brands to adopt regenerative business models. 

Written by

Erin Morris is the founder and director at Young Folks. Packing more than 10 years marketing experience, Erin has worked with start-ups, corporates and everything in between. She loves listening to audiobooks whilst running, oat milk flat whites, and scouring Marketplace for secondhand furniture finds.

Our Melbourne and Mornington Peninsula studios are open 9am – 5pm Monday to Friday. If you’re a brand in the business of doing good, we’d love to hear from you.

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