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It’s that time of year when we are reminded of the value in helping others in need and making life a little better for those who are less fortunate than us. Whether it’s providing Thanksgiving turkeys to families, clothing or canned goods or making sure every tot has a toy at Christmas, it feels good to do good during the holiday season. This sentiment also inspires us to recognize purpose-first brands that are creating positive change throughout the entire year by choosing to do business in ways that do good in people’s lives.

Purpose-first brands are those brands that put a clear and compelling purpose at the center of everything they do. We really like definition we saw recently in a report by Accenture on the rise of purpose-led brands. In the report, it states “purpose is the reason why something exists. For companies, it’s the foundation of every experience. It is the underlying essence that makes every brand relevant and necessary.” These are brands that we root for, admire and choose to do business with because of who they are and what they hope to accomplish in the world. Here’s our list of 10 brands that we believe get purpose right, and serve as inspirations for everyone. As you look at their names, remember that we’re not suggesting that purpose-first brands are out the save the world. They’re out to energize positive change in their corner of the world. Have a look and let us know what you think. Oh, and feel free to tell us about any other brands that you think we should add to next year’s list!

Here is a list of 10 purpose-first brands that we admire and want to recognize for the work they’re doing, and the positive impact they’re creating in the world:

  1. Method
    “People Against Dirty.” That’s the mission that Method home products has been on since day one. Every product they make does a better job of cleaning than traditional cleaners and does it without using any of their harsh chemicals. They’re actively making the world a cleaner, greener and more colorful place…one beautifully designed bottle at a time.
  2. Toms
    In his travels around the world, Blake Mycoskie saw the hardships faced by children in some places who didn’t own shoes. So, he started Toms with a business model he called “One for One” that committed to giving a child in need a pair of shoes for every pair of Toms sold. To date, that’s represents over 60 million pairs of shoes for kids in need, and styling kicks for the rest of us.
  3. Patagonia
    When Black Friday and Cyber Monday rolled around, instead of offering customers deep discounts to buy more stuff, Patagonia offered to match their customers’ charitable contributions to environmental protectors. And in their communications, whether emails or catalogs, they always share inspirational stories of athletes and causes fighting to heal the planet for future generations.
  4. The People’s Movement
    The People’s Movement, also known as MOVMT, makes shoes and accessories that reflect their passion for clean lines and a clean environment. It offers eco-hip products that stand for a reduction in single-use plastic. Their impact is using upcycled plastic in their products and giving to organizations like 5 Gyres, who are reducing plastic through oceanic research, collaboration and action. They encourage all of us to Join the Cause and Start a MOVMT.
  5. Kind Snacks
    Anyone who’s eaten a KIND bar knows it’s filled with tasty goodness. But they do it with a purpose: Do the kind thing for your body, your taste buds & your world®. To date, KIND and The KIND Foundation have invested and committed more than $34.5 million and 50,490 volunteer hours to charitable causes that are spreading kindness and fighting hunger.
  6. Peet’s Coffee
    It may surprise some people that Berkeley-based Peet’s was the original supplier of coffee beans to the founders of Starbucks. What’s not surprising is that Peet’s, founded itself over 50 years ago, is obsessed with great coffee. To make it a sustainable pleasure, Peet’s has committed to verified sourcing, providing eco-training to coffee farmers, supporting communities at origin, and helping to breed the climate-smart coffee plants of tomorrow.
  7. Chobani
    We can’t help but love the good that this yogurt company is doing in the world but we also love how it is engaging internal culture to bring to life their purpose “better food for more people.” Chobani empowers teams with the right language and protocols to inspire them to own the purpose and drive it forward. Chobani’s profit sharing program is a great example of how smart companies are building culture around purpose by incentivizing employees and creating narratives around their purpose that clearly identifies where employees fit in and how it can energize positive change in their lives.
  8. REI
    REI and its employees are passionate about the outdoors. They share their enthusiasm for the products they sell, and the trails, slopes and waterways where they explore. Each year, REI donates millions of dollars to support conservation efforts nationwide and sends dedicated teams of volunteers – members, customers and employees to build trails, clean up beaches and more. REI employs responsible business practices across the company that are designed to reduce their environmental impact.
  9. Nuun Hydration
    Nuun is all about delivering hydration that inspires people to move more. The Seattle-based brand is a purveyor of electrolyte tablets that turn water into a sports drink. Nuun reformulated its entire product line to remove artificial ingredients, become completely plant-based, and obtain non-GMO certification. A bold move competing with a powerhouse like Gatorade based on Nuun’s belief in a more natural way to hydrate your body and stay connected to the world around you.
  10. Unilever
    One of the biggest makers of consumer products on the planet recently proclaimed that it is their mission to make sure that in the future, every Unilever brand will be a brand with a purpose. In 2018, Unilever’s 28 Sustainable Living Brands – those taking action to support positive change for people and the planet – grew 69% faster than the rest of their business. That’s up from 46% in 2017. They also delivered 75% of our overall growth. We can’t wait to see the kind of positive impact this can make in the world.

Here’s to the purpose-first brands that stood out for us in 2019. Well done to all! Thanks for inspiring us all to find ways of doing good in the way you do business. If you have a passion or purpose-first brands and marketing with greater meaning, be sure to connect with us to see our Purpose Firsts of the Month. 20nine will be posting our picks for standout purpose-first brands on the first day of every month in 2020.

And remember, do what you believe in and believe in what you do!


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