Yesterday, our good friends over at UnLtd hosted a special brekky at Twitter HQ on how businesses can (and should) do more good. And who better to speak than Afdhel Aziz, inspirational keynote and all-round marketing and social impact whiz.
For the uninitiated, Afdhel Aziz is the author of Good is the New Cool : Market Like You Give a Damn, and has started a massive movement towards the purpose of businesses, and how people can not only love, but feel good about their work in the 21st century.
Obviously, his book (co-authored by Bobby Jones) was a huge success, and Aziz now tours the world as a professional speaker and consultant – and has spoken to tens of thousands of people, from New York to Stockholm to Mexico – and now Sydney!
It took him and Jones four and a half years to write the book, during which they interviewed 21 people – all brands, non-profits and culture creators.
And what they found was that “some of the coolest brands on the planet were the ones doing the most good”.
And that doing good made them cooler, and more popular with consumers. Because people now have more leverage over brands, and they aren’t afraid to use it.
Aziz said we’ve seen this through celebrities (or culture creators) becoming activists, from Lady Gaga to Justin Beiber to Will Smith. And non-profits are getting on board as well – to get into one of the coolest festivals in New York city, you don’t buy a ticket, you do an act of good.
“We’re seeing these three waves: consumers who want the brands in their lives to do good, employees who want to work for companies that do good, and now investors that want to invest in companies that do good. All happening at the same time,” he said.
“Social activism is now the second leading driver of brand strength.”
And in case you were wondering, the number one driver is leading edge, or “cool”.
“Aesthetics matter, design matters, storytelling matters. It’s no longer enough just to go ‘hey we’re good, buy us’, you have to use all of these super powers to bring people into your brand,” Aziz said.
“[But] how do we use the power of the brand to connect with consumers, to make money and do good at the same time?” He asked.
Aziz used Unilever as an example. In their sustainable brands report, more than half of their growth was coming from sustainable brands – and now they’re trying to put sustainability and purpose at the heart of every brand under their wing.
“This is no longer a moral conversation they’re having, it’s an economical one,” Aziz said.
Consumers wouldn’t care if 75 per cent of brands disappeared. So Aziz said the fight was to keep your brand in that 25 per cent – which can be done by having a purpose and a heart within your brand.
“Find your purpose,” Aziz said.
“The average lifespan of a company has shrunk from 67 years to 15 years. Companies are going extent and dying faster. And our thesis is that those companies that don’t have a clear purpose, and don’t clearly show value to humanity are going to die out.
“[But] the world’s biggest problems are the world’s biggest business opportunities. Problems are goldmines,” he said.
And when you’re brand is solving problems, your customers will advertise for you – and make you more money. Simple, right?
Well, here’s a quick overview of Aziz’s thesis of how brands can make money and do good at the same time:
- Know your purpose. Know why you exist as a company beyond just making money.
- Find your allies that believe in a common purpose (this could be other brands, co-workers or culture creators).
- Think of people as citizens, not consumers. Think about them as multi-dimensional human beings beyond the point of transaction where they buy your product.
- Lead with the cool – have great storytelling, great design and great aesthetics to bring people in and don’t just preach about the good you’re doing.
- Dont advertise, solve problems
- People are the new media. Engaging people and having them rave about your brand is invaluable.
So what’s next for Aziz? B&T stole him away after for a little more probing.
“I think we’re just really at chapter one of this whole movement. And that’s what’s really exciting when you start to look ahead and see how it’ll grow and mature and more and more companies will come on board.
“We’re now starting to develop a TV show which will be pretty incredible to go and find examples of people doing inspiring things and social entrepreneurship,” he told B&T.
“The main goal [is] to have everybody feel like they could do something meaningful with the work they’re doing in their lives.”