Purpose Punks: How Purpose Led Brands Can Punch Through Purpose Fatigue

Written by:
Dan Salkey
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The Purpose Punk is primed to punch purpose fatigue square in the jaw. These brands know purpose alone won’t punctuate the mass of communications in the world. To capture attention, you need to deliver purpose with personality. You need to inspire rather than enforce activism. That might seem obvious, but hasn't been the case recently - why not?


In 2019, Unilever CEO Allan Jope proudly declared “We believe the evidence is clear and compelling that brands with purpose grow. In fact, we believe this so strongly that in the future, every Unilever brand will be a brand with purpose.”

This was the moment we hit peak purpose-mania. Businesses from dishwashing tablets to insect repellent suddenly needed a sociopolitical position. Brands felt fearful of failing in a new world of the conscious consumer. 

The fear was understandable. When asked in focus groups, 82% of us say “Of course, I make purchase decisions with purpose in mind”. But out in the wild, in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis, the reality is very different. 

Now, sped on by gaffes from brands like Gillette and Pepsi, we’ve entered purpose fatigue. People are bored by empty claims that a brand will save the world.


These brands entertain first knowing they must earn the right to talk purpose. 

Who Gives A Crap were the original Purpose Punks. Their founder declared he would sit on the toilet until they’d crowdfunded their first 50k. 50 hours later, WGAC hit their target and the rest is history. 

Tony’s Chocolonley’s wonkily divided chocolate bars are another great example of leading with personality. And what’s more entertaining than planning to build a rollercoaster into your chocolate factory? Every piece of Wonka esque news created more column inches for meaningful conversations about chocolate production.

Ocean Bottle (a °Small World client) punched through the Christmas noise by entertaining and galvanising shoppers rather than telling them off. We recruited Santa to pull off high-profile personality-packed stunts. Punking Jeff Bezos at one of his Amazon warehouses was a highlight. All this earns the right to tell people why Ocean Bottle was the world’s most needed Christmas gift. 

The core tactics of the Purpose Punk are channel agnostic. Instead they elegantly borrow from the ‘fun’ FMCG and packaged goods brands of old to repackage their purpose. 

So if your brand is purposeful, make sure to give it some punch, personality and punk. 

Strategy in a sentence

Get purpose-fatigued people to buy into our cause by offering entertainment value first

How does it entertain?

Leads with personality, making it easy and fun to do good

Why is it entertaining?

In a world filled with fear mongering, brands that lead with levity feel refreshing