The Purposeful Age

The Purposeful Age

Companies are moving into a new age. We are leaving behind the post-industrial age when making the best product was enough and the information age when data was a differentiator. In today’s age the difference between product can only be understood by a ‘Which Tester’ and anyone with an internet connection has access to more data that they can possibly process with the tools to filter that information freely available to everyone, from Google Think to Topsy.

We are entering a new age, the Purposeful Age; an age when the strongest companies will align their business and communication strategies around a purpose. A purpose that is defined as the reason a company exists beyond making money and a purpose that defines your value to culture and society and your responsibility to both. A purpose that can exist on a sliding scale from making the world a happier place to delivering against a fundamental human need. Purpose not confused with a CSR strategy; how ludicrous does it seem now to plant a tree after taking a flight…

… it was captured perfectly by Indra Nooyi, the CEO of Pepsico.

“When we articulated the notion of performance with purpose, people said ‘oh, this is corporate responsibility.’ Wrong. This is not about how we spend the money we make. The focus needs to be on how we make the money.”

In this new age a traditional business plan and brand strategy may no longer be enough, they are too easily pried apart and disrupted. In the ‘Purposeful Age’companies and institutions have the opportunity to join a meaningful conversation around things that matter, take their place in culture and demonstrate their responsibility to society.

Companies operating in the ‘Purposeful Age’ have the ability to not just be affected by the accelerating world and the disruption that surrounds them but to the effect the world around them for the better.

What is driving the move to the ‘Purposeful Age?’


It is the concern of business; every sector is talking about it. When will the Uber or Airbnb of their sector arrive? When will a company be created that focuses on eliminating the inefficiencies in the existing business model of that sector? Will it be airlines, banking, insurance or the energy sector that will face disruption? Probably all. One of the ways to protect against this disruption is to take your role in culture and society and ensure that the world is a better place with your company in it than not.

The world is accelerating.

The decline and rise of companies has been accelerated, in the linear world you could see you competitors ‘coming’ as they grew in a controlled way, you knew who they were. Now new investment models, the power of the public, the ability to scale quickly and cheaply are just some of structural changes that are driving a world where exponential growth of businesses becomes the norm. Your competitor in one year’s time probably doesn’t exist today.

Value is changing.

As the value system of new generation has changed; they are no longer focused on financial return but lead with a thirst for meaning and experience. Operating in the ‘Purposeful Age’ becomes about attracting the best talent to the company. At it’s most fundamental it becomes the ‘skills strategy’ for the company allowing companies to attract the best talent.

What does this mean for communications? We believe the types of services that are needed have changed. The expectations of an agency are different.

To meet these demands we have focused our agency around a model we call the 3P’s:

Performance +

Purpose =


These are 10 factors driving that change:

+ Exponentiality.

The decline of a linear world and the rise of the exponential world.

+ Purpose driven communications.

Trust being driven by truth and transparency in communications.

+ Blurred audiences.

The decline of B2C and B2B communications and the rise of B2Hcommunications

+ Future legacy.

Doing good today is not enough. A need for a future legacy, both as individuals and corporations will change our message.

+ Accelerating Technology.

The oldest piece of technology you will ever hold is your smartphone. Accelerating technology is driving new product and service communications.

+ The Power of the Public.

The public are driving change not governments or business. Power is returning to the people. We need new public engagement strategies.

+ New brand coalition strategies.

Collaborations are no longer enough. Companies are forming coalitions around fundamental human needs.

+ Character driven communications.

In an age when brand is no longer enough and companies need look to deeper values.

+ Social curation + publishing.

We curate rather than create the story.

+ Employees as advocates. Inside out strategy.

Your internal audience becomes your most powerful tool.

And what will be next? One thought is that on the horizon and accelerating toward us is the ‘Altruistic Age.’ An age not created by business and fueled by exponential investment but an age powered by the public. An age that will be truly disruptive making the Uber business model appear as irrelevant as Kodak was in a digital era.

An age that will truly change the world for the better.

Simon Shaw, Chief Creative Officer, Hill+Knowlton Strategies UK

For more on this topic, join Simon and H+K UK CEO Richard Millar at Eurobest as they present How to Disrupt Your Business.

Please contact us for more information.