April 29, 2021


by William Turner in News

Our agency’s latest white paper “From Pledges to Progress: Proving Brand Purpose in 2021” is out today. In it, we track organizations’ progress beyond making well-intentioned pledges. Now, companies are taking action on everything from voting rights to civil rights, climate change to employee well-being, to diversity, equity and inclusion.

To develop this report, a global team of Red Havas experts collaborated to further reflect on what the past year taught communicators. (There’s lots more where that thinking came from in our 2021 “Red Sky Predictions” report.) Our conclusion: Brands and corporations that embody a purpose are poised to succeed post-pandemic.

Consumers want to purchase from brands with a soul

Even before a year of civic unrest and pandemic-fueled uncertainty, research indicated that consumers preferred to buy from companies making a positive impact on the world. As a result, stakeholder expectations of organizations are up—way up—for organizations to take a stance and speak publicly on social issues.

Employees want to feel included by employers they respect

Furthermore, employees want to work for companies that are anchored by purpose. They must prove that they prioritize employees’ health and wellbeing, and are intentionally creating a diverse and inclusive workplace. Otherwise, organizations risk their silence and inaction being interpreted by their employees as indifference or complicity.

Brand purpose: 3 focus areas in 2021

The white paper examines shifts in the substance, style and tonality of internal and external brand communications around three key themes:

1. Prioritizing employee well-being

Brands that want to be at the forefront of their industry need to consider the factors influencing their employees’ mental health and wellbeing. And they aren’t as simple as work-life balance, return-to-office protocols or continued remote working. They include everything that comes with being a human in the workforce: childcare benefits, competitive wages, job security and, above all else, empathy.

2. Doubling down on diversity, equity and inclusion

 The employee experience has moved beyond the four walls of the office. With a greater number of workers representing and speaking to their personal beliefs publicly, they want their employers to also take action on societal issues. They’re looking to be sure there’s consistency between a company’s words and its actions. 

3. Counteracting climate change

Answering the call to mitigate climate change and ramp up sustainability efforts is both an immediate need and an expectation. The pandemic has caused consumers to rethink their priorities when considering brands, and environmental consciousness has been heightened even further. 

Contributors to the “From Pledges to Progress” report include Redsters James Wright, global CEO and global chairman; Linda Descano, CFA®, EVP and head of corporate communications and executive visibility; Richard Clarke, executive director; Courtney Myers, SVP and head of experiential; Ellen Mallernee Barnes, VP of content; Sam McDougall, VP of social and operations; Georgina Thompson, senior account director; and Ashley Jones, content manager.

For more on why it’s never been more important for brands to have a purpose and to embody it in words and actions, download the “From Pledges to Progress” white paper.