The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]


Purpose Before Purpose …

So I recently heard a story that should put companies who talk about ‘brand purpose’ to shame.

I’ve written a lot about this subject, but this does it so much better.

Hell, it may even make Mr Weigel – who hates the bullshit spouted about this area of marketing – nod in agreement.

So way back in 1939, the Kansas Wheat realised women were using their sacks to make clothes for their children.

Rather than consider this a strange byproduct of their product packaging, they decided they would start putting designs on the sack fabric so they could make nicer looking clothes.

For many companies, that would be enough … considering this a great way to ‘market their purpose’, but the Kansas Wheat company went one step further.

A step that proved they genuinely cared rather than cared more about looking like they did.

You see they printed their logo on the sacks with an ink that would easily wash away … so the kids wearing the clothes wouldn’t face any stigma they’re wearing repurposed wheat sacks.

Given how much has been said and written about brand purpose, I hope this stops people spouting shit that ‘purpose’ is new or that it means you have to relinquish your commercial requirements to demonstrate it.

Because the key to it is not about the scale you claim you want to achieve, but how you do what you do every single day.


29 Comments so far
Leave a comment

What an amazing story. Thank you for sharing Robert.

Comment by Lee Hill

Hope you are doing OK Lee.
Good to see you on here again.

Comment by George

+1

Comment by Bazza

+ 2.

Comment by Pete

Ditto.

Comment by Rob

im not going to give you a pointless fucking +, im going to say i hope dickie boy isnt being a fucking dick.

Comment by andy@cynic

That this still puts most companies “purpose” to shame, 81 years after the event and during a global pandemic, highlights how much of what brands claims guides them is bullshit.

Comment by George

I think you have just described unilever.

Comment by Bazza

I hold a special place for my apathy towards Unilever, who seem to be the most vocal about operating by this code. It is obviously not true as they appear to chop and change “purpose” to suit their marketing requirements and many of their sub-brands have openly contradictory purposes, which suggests they use them for marketing rather than guidance.

Comment by George

What?! Mr Nice hating on someone? Who are you and what have you done with the real George? I don’t want him back, I prefer the anger and writing of this one.

Comment by Bazza

Are Unilever any worse than all the other multinationals claiming the same thing? As soon as I read them boasting how purpose drives their profit, I know what their purpose really is about.

Comment by Pete

Yes. And their former CMO is now head of the Advertising Association and sitting on boards while other alumni are spreading to the C suites of major businesses.

Comment by John

unilever are a bunch of self-serving pricks. fact.

Comment by andy@cynic

This is a cool story. Shame the story ends with “and then H&M came in and sold clothes that cost less than the bag holding the grain and about the same quality.”

Comment by Bazza

I thought you were going to write, “and then the Kansas Wheat company realised there was more profit in selling printed bags so they ditched the grain and changed their name to H&M.”

Comment by Pete

You win.

Comment by Bazza

Evil. But funny.

Comment by Rob

Pete FTW

Comment by DH

Honored.

Comment by Pete

twat.

Comment by andy@cynic

While I am not as anti-brand purpose as Martin, I do believe one of the simplest ways to tell who is being authentic in their claims – versus those simply using it for marketing – is to discover how how many ‘purposes’ they’ve had and how long they’ve had it.

I know I am being overly simplistic, but for me … if they’ve had more than one and that was only defined in the past few years, then they probably aren’t.

Comment by Rob

That some companies claim to do the work governments fail to do, is one of the most arrogant lies told in business.

Comment by George

Did Kansas Wheat advertise what they were doing or did they simply do it?

One is genuine purpose, the other is just on purpose.

Comment by John

I think they just did it … probably because they knew their existing customer base would see it and spread the word. So yeah, proper purpose.

Comment by Rob

That’s what i assumed. It makes the fading logo even better.

Comment by John

I love this from the research paper

Marketing tactics were redirected from the farmer to the farmwife as bag manufacturers and mills attempted to“attract feminine attention to get the masculine dollar” (Lockhart 193320). This shift in target market continued over the next few decades and did not go unnoticedbyfeed storesemployees. A quote from a feed salesman in 1948 probably echoed the sentiment of many of his fellow feed merchants. “Years ago they used to ask for all sorts of feeds, special brands, you know. Now they come over and ask me if I have an egg mash in a flowered percale. It ain‟t natural” (Perkins 1948, 3221).

Comment by John

either is fucking farm animals but i bet the salesmen fuckers were doing that.

Comment by andy@cynic

now i know where you get your clothes from campbell.

Comment by andy@cynic

Cruel but fair.

Comment by DH




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