#4 How to spot (and avoid) Purpose Wash
“Purpose wash” has become a catch all term for any business that talks with purpose, that uses their products, brand, campaigns, people, to contribute to positive change - but does not back this up with comprehensive action across every aspect of what they do.
The reality is that most brands accused of “purpose wash” are doing good stuff, sometimes brilliant, impactful stuff! But there’s a break somewhere in the system that creates a disconnect. And this leaves people questioning the real motive or the integrity of the brand’s stated purpose.
Businesses are complex and for a purpose to be enduring, it has to be ambitious, so change can take time. In some ways, the biggest challenge associated with the idea of “purpose wash” as it’s being used today, is it sets perfection as the enemy of progress, and stops businesses from taking action and brands from communicating their efforts to create positive change.
So how do you get purpose right? We heard from Katie Leggett at innocent, Sarah Gillard from the John Lewis Partnership, Mark Hamilton of Facebook and Jane Stiller at ITV at our event on “purpose wash” and this is what they had to say.