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Only 35% of consumers say that working for a purpose-led company is one of the ways that they engage in behaviors to improve their impact on the world. But 81% believe it’s important for their organization’s values to align to their own. We call this gap between values and action the Brand Culture Action Gap™.
Ask almost any modern consumer about their personal impact on the world; and
chances are, they are already acutely aware of how their actions affect the
planet and people around them. According to a recent study by
Barkley, an independent creative idea company
committed to knowing modern consumers better than anyone, 83 percent of
consumers say living life with purpose and reducing impact on the world is
important to them (Barkley
We see this reflected in changing behaviors, such as recycling more and driving
less, and in changing consumption habits. In fact, two-thirds of consumers say
they look for products that help them live a more sustainable and socially
Surprisingly, this sustainability-first mentality isn’t translating to all areas
of modern consumers’ lives. Buying sustainable products is becoming a social
norm, but being able to work for a sustainable company isn’t. Yet.
Only one-third (35 percent) say that working for a purpose-led
is one of the ways that they engage in behaviors to improve their impact on the
world. Consumers may think it’s important for brands to operate sustainably, but
they still don’t connect the dots between working for a purpose-led company as a
way to reduce their impact.
On the other hand, 81 percent of consumers believe it’s important or very
important for their organization’s values to align to their personal values
(Barkley 2019). This gap between values and action is what we call the Brand
Culture Action Gap™.
It raises questions. Is it that people check their personal values at the door
when they go to work? Or is it that consumers haven’t had the opportunity or
didn’t even know it was a possibility to live out their sustainable values at
Either way, it’s a challenge and a tipping point for modern brands. As consumer
expectations of the brands they buy increase, it stands to reason that these
expectations are soon to shift to the brands they work for, as well. And if
brands don’t act soon to engage employees, they either risk a lack of engagement
— leading to employee dissatisfaction, turnover and loss of reputation; or they
risk not meeting their sustainability targets because the people who have the
greatest impact on those results — employees — are not engaged in culturally
relevant internal actions.
A brand’s employees are its greatest asset for representing what it stands
across the Whole Brand Spectrum, which means
incorporating purpose into every aspect of their business — from inside business
ideas to outside marketing ideas. And modern brands know that if they’re not
thinking about what sustainability means for their brand culture, their biggest
risk is losing the foundation that keeps them relevant with employees,
prospects, stakeholders and consumers.
As modern consumers increasingly consider their personal impact on the world at
home and at work, sustainability plans must be more than an executive-level
strategy. They must live and be adopted at every level within the organization.
Aligning sustainability commitments to brand culture is a critical first step to
ensuring long-term success — inside and outside.
Published Mar 17, 2020 2pm EDT / 11am PDT / 6pm GMT / 7pm CET
Allyssa Kennedy is an Account Director within Barkley's Purpose and Sustainability group. For more than a decade, Allyssa has helped brands define, live and communicate their purpose inside and outside of their organizations.
This article, produced in cooperation with the Sustainable Brands editorial team, has been paid for by one of our sponsors.