When purpose and profit converge: How brand purpose drives business impact and social change
The world demands more of brands now than ever before. In fact, consumers are four times more likely to purchase from a brand they perceive to have a strong purpose, and six times more likely to protect that brand in the event of a misstep¹. So, for brands to thrive, they must do more than deliver goods and services – they must show customers who they are, where they’re going, and what they stand for. Put simply, purpose leads to profit. (Not to mention, it’s the right thing to do for people and the planet!)
As brands demonstrate their commitment to purpose by delivering real value, change, and impact to their communities, the more successful they become. At Designit, we’ve seen this success up close. When our longtime client, Acer, came to us looking for a way to increase their brand affinity in the increasingly commoditised market of tech hardware, we knew we had to do more than drive awareness of their technology. Leveraging years of collaboration and trust, Designit helped show Acer the business case for amplifying Acer’s brand purpose while capitalising on a strong foundation of customer loyalty and quality products.
Acer’s brand purpose – breaking barriers between people and technology – means enriching lives through access to technology and enabling communities to grow and succeed, both now and in the future. To bring Acer’s purpose to life, we leveraged our long-standing relationship to help create, evolve, and implement an impactful brand purpose initiative for Acer.
Bringing purpose to life through Barrier Breakers
It’s one thing to know your purpose; it’s another to activate it. After conducting in-depth research, Acer and Designit identified two main barriers to a better future – the digital divide and environmental sustainability – which we felt we could help solve. Together, we created Barrier Breakers, a program to amplify the work of nonprofits who are harnessing technology for positive change.
To start, we worked with Acer to identify five organisations dedicated to improving people’s lives: One Tree Planted and Quiet Sound, who work to mitigate the impact of climate change, and three amazing social initiatives, Tech for Troops, Bean Path, and Computers for the Blind. Then, we helped our five Barrier Breakers create engaging video content, photography, dedicated landing pages, and targeted media campaigns for their social initiatives. Acer supported these organisations with device donations and funding – and, in doing so, activated Acer’s own purpose.
Solving challenges by activating brand purpose
Through in-depth interviews and conversations at the outset, we came to understand the challenges faced by each nonprofit and how we could provide support to solve them. Computers for the Blind (CFTB), for example, is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organisation whose aim is to enable digital equity by providing hardware and monitors for people with blindness and visual impairment across the United States. Founded in 1995 by Bob Langford, who was blinded in an accident at sixteen years old, CFTB offers services to help people with visual impairment and blindness manage personal affairs and schoolwork, gain employment opportunities, learn new marketable job skills, and more.
At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, CFTB grew by 40 percent and struggled to keep up with the newly increased need for technology at home. Through Barrier Breakers, Acer provided new monitors to contribute to CFTB’s mission of empowering people with visual impairment and blindness in the digital age.
In reflecting on the experience, Christy Householter, Executive Director of CFTB, recalls the day Designit requested to speak with her about Barrier Breakers. “Little did we know that one year later, our little nonprofit would be featured as part of your Acer Barrier Breakers campaign! The end product alone was enough to make us so happy and proud... but there was something else that made the true lasting impression on our organization. The folks that you sent from Designit are Barrier Breakers themselves.”
Reflecting on the Designit team’s dedication to the project, Christy says, “They coached, listened, were compassionate, were professional, followed up, followed through, and followed up again! They went way beyond by speaking to us several times to learn more about accessibility and descriptive video for persons with sight loss. We will always be thankful to Acer for sending them our way and to Designit for their open hearts and minds... making the world a better place through technology!"
Today, nearly 80 percent of consumers are changing their purchasing habits based on a brand’s social responsibility, inclusiveness, and environmental impact². While overarching data clearly supports the idea that consumers reward brands with strong purpose, it is essential to establish measurable KPIs at the outset of any brand purpose effort to understand its value.
Acer’s Barrier Breakers initiative was impactful on several different levels. The initiative garnered 6.6 million impressions across paid and organic social media, drove over 20k people to the Barrier Breakers landing page to learn more, and saw the organic traffic to that landing page increase by 80% after two quarters in market. Aside from those brand metrics, Acer secured more funding for partner nonprofits and directly helped the organisations who were part of Barrier Breakers. CFTB was able to reach a milestone of 16,000 computer donations in 2021 thanks to the visibility of Acer’s initiative, helping countless people with blindness and visual impairment by bringing technology directly into their homes and lives. Similarly, The Bean Path raised over $800,000 last year, the most they’ve ever raised, which they attribute to the Breaker Barriers video and online engagement.
In many ways, Acer did what they set out to do: Break down the barriers between people and technology and empower those working on the front lines of social change.
The future of brand purpose
What’s next for Acer? To start, Acer and Designit are exploring new ways to extend the Barrier Breakers initiative so Acer may continue to deliver on their brand purpose. Additionally, Barrier Breakers now serves as a cornerstone that Acer looks to when planning future purpose-driven initiatives. Acer stands as an example of the success brands see when they make meaningful change and start living their purpose.
For purpose to succeed broadly, it needs to demonstrate true business value. It’s clear in customer sentiment and in the success of purpose-centred brand initiatives that being purpose-driven is no longer simply a good idea, it’s a necessity to win over consumers in today’s market. Increasingly, purpose-driven brands like Acer are finding themselves in the best position to strengthen their brand and business, attract top talent, and make a positive impact on the world. Companies and organisations who embrace this paradigm will find a deeper level of meaningfulness in their work and reap the rewards of adding value to the lives of their customers.
- 2020 Zeno Group Strength of Purpose: https://www.zenogroup.com/insights/2020-zeno-strength-purpose
- 2020 Capgemini Report: https://www.globenewswire.com/news-release/2020/07/08/2059043/0/en/Capgemini-Press-Release-79-of-consumers-are-changing-their-purchase-preferences-based-on-social-responsibility-inclusiveness-or-environmental-impact.html