The 4 Ps of Purpose-Driven Work: Introduction

by Richenda Vermeulen
September 18, 2021

Brands today are all about purpose. And for good reason. Caught between customers demanding more ethical products and job seekers wanting to get more out of their work, a purpose-driven brand is no longer a nice-to-have. It’s essential. Forbes even declared purpose to be the new competitive advantage.

This trend has only intensified with the pandemic. More Aussies are leaving jobs as uncertainty prompts more of us to rethink our priorities and search for something, well… more.

It’s time to align your work (and workplace) with your purpose. But that takes more than slapping your mission statement on everything in sight. It takes a solid understanding of what purpose is, what it’s not, and how having a clearly defined purpose impacts every part of your work.

Purpose is more than a marketing gimmick.

Brands are hopping on the purpose bandwagon. But not all purpose is created equal. And not all claims to a noble purpose stand up to scrutiny.

We’re all familiar with the practice of ‘greenwashing’, when a brand markets itself as more environmentally friendly than it really is. Think oil companies running adverts about how low-carbon they are.

The point? Whatever your greater purpose as a brand, it has to extend beyond your marketing. It has to shape the work you do and the way you do it. The products you make, the services you provide, the people you hire – and yes, the way you treat them. People can smell a hollow marketing gimmick a mile away.

Purpose-driven work is not just for charities and NFPs.

Every brand should have a purpose, a reason for existing that permeates every layer of the organisation.

As we’ve been hiring to grow at ntegrity, the agency I started in 2012, I’ve found that for some job candidates, purpose doesn’t just mean doing something ethical or supporting certain causes or even helping NFPs (which is a big part of our work). For them, purpose means knowing their skills will be put to good use.

For-profit brands can be just as purpose-driven as NFPs. Your purpose can show up in the products you sell and in the way you market them. But it should also shape the way you invest in people – setting them up for success, helping them grow. When you get it right, purpose can be a key advantage in an increasingly challenging job market.

Purpose-driven work isn’t always black and white. But it doesn’t have to be overwhelming.

As a social worker who started a business without ever having worked in one before, putting purpose at the centre of ntegrity seemed like a natural thing to do. Since then, we’ve grown into a 25+ person business helping NFPs around the world grow. Basically, we get paid to help NFPs get paid!

We’ve been recognised by our peers and stakeholders as a leader among purpose-driven brands. (And we are the leading for-purpose agency in Australia!) But even for us, purpose – much less how we integrate it across our organisation – is not always clear cut. So we came up with a framework inspired by the 4 Ps of marketing that we use to help us bring purpose into everything we do.

These 4 Ps of purpose-driven work can help your business, big or small, identify where you are successfully driving purpose and where there is opportunity for growth. These 4 Ps look a lot like the original 4, with one exception:

Every brand should bring a commitment to purpose into these four key areas. Over the next few posts, we’ll take a deeper look at each one.

If you’re wondering how you can make purpose the driving force of everything you do, let us know. We’d love to chat.