Brand Citizenship & Purpose


I’m delighted to share this excerpt from Do Good with you…. [Adapted by permission of the publisher from Do Good by Anne Bahr Thompson © 2018 Anne Bahr Thompson. Published by AMACOM, NY, NY. All rights reserved.]


Brand Citizenship begins with a clearly defined brand purpose. And placing purpose in the center of a business is a proactive choice…. It rarely happens by accident.


A powerful sense of purpose positions a brand on a distinguishable journey across the five steps of Brand Citizenship. Further, an effective purpose opens a brand up to endless possibilities across the ME-to-WE continuum by motivating action through greater meaning. Yet a brand purpose will create verifiable financial and social impact only when it is used to benchmark organizational systems and policies, product development, employee behaviors, relationships with stakeholders, sustainability, and corporate social responsibility, as well as brand development, marketing, and communications. More and more, corporate see purpose as a motivating tool for strategic business transformation, a way to embrace sustainability and a means of embedding ESG principles across an organization.

Brand Citizenship & Brand Purpose

Clarifying brand purpose—or why your business exists—is not an easy task. It must be true to who you are and what you do, not based on a competitor’s position, advocacy group’s demands, or politically correct definition. A meaningful purpose is about much more than the products and services a company sells. Purpose sits at the intersection of the reason your business was created, the things that matter most to your customers, employees and other stakeholders, and how you do business. Identifying it typically requires stepping back and reviewing your heritage; gaining a deep understanding of your customers’, employees’, and other key stakeholders’ desires and expectations for your industry or category; and reflecting on the core competencies and values that drive business success today as well as those that will shape it in the future.


In investigating these three areas through management interviews, market research, and other audits, executives and managers may discover that a meaningful purpose was a part of their business all along yet had not been accentuated or was lost over the years. For others, especially those in traditional consumer goods, exploring how their brand impacts people’s lives on a deeper level will help expand thinking beyond more traditional product features and benefits. For these businesses, identifying a social mission that is rooted in what the product does will help to illuminate a more significant purpose. As highlighted in Do Good, both The Vaseline® Healing Project and Andrex® Toilets Change Lives programs were developed in this manner.


When a purpose is true to what a brand delivers, it taps into universal truths that emotively stir employees at all levels across an organization, to do good and have an impact.


Learn more about the story of Brand Citizenship and how the model came into view here.


Learn about Brand Citizenship 2.0 and how the model has evolved to be circular here.