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Purpose: The Catalyst for the Future of People — and Brand Experience

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Jordan Waid

Jordan Waid

VP, Brand Experience, FreemanXP EMEA

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Shared vision creates the possibility for positive change

German theologian Albert Schweitzer once said, “The purpose of a human life is to serve and to show compassion and the will to help others.” Around the world, we are increasingly seeing a larger focus on having a collective vision to make the world a better place. From the United Nations' empowering efforts around the refugee crisis all the way to your neighbourhood’s Little Free Library, people feel good about being involved in change that enriches lives. A strong purpose aligns people towards a common goal, creating a basis upon which incredible change can happen.

Purpose also creates momentum, pushing movements and ideas that will truly propel us forward. And in the future, as that global purpose grows and changes, it will begin not just to drive the collaborative community it has created, but everything around us as well. Purpose is the basis from which all other change will occur, whether we’re talking about transforming education or creating a sea change in more ethical business models, your local government, or the brand experience industry.

In the work we do, we are more than just marketers — we bring people together to have a powerful experience of learning, growing, networking, and being creative. We are at the ground floor of purpose, and as people and their visions for a better world change and become more prevalent, we must make sure that our events don’t just happen, but are part of a bigger mission to make a positive impact.

Here are a few ways purpose could make a huge impact in the next five to ten years, based on trends happening now and macro trends we’re forecasting for the future.

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The idea of social good is nothing new, but it has become a key driver for many people around the world as they choose which brands and events they want to be involved with. Millennials, for instance, prefer to align themselves with brands that promote a philanthropic component — they’re 66 per cent more likely to engage with socially conscious brands, and 70 per cent more likely to spend more on brands that support causes they care about.

Philanthropy is also on the rise at events and as a component of the experiences that people choose to participate in. Popular global events, like Mashable’s Social Good Summit, have upped the ante by offering learning tracks, networking, community projects, and more that call attention to important causes and enable people to be better changemakers. Bottom line, people want to align themselves with brands and organisations make a difference in the world. That changes things on a fundamental level, even within companies that are constantly trying to attract the brightest talent and the best clients.

Take the idea of the disparity of wages within organisations — at many companies, CEOs make hundreds of times more than their lowest-paid employees. But we’re starting to see a mindset towards decreasing that, with advocates recommending no more than a 20:1 ratio from the highest- to lowest-paid employees. That notion of “ethical salary banding” is going to transform the modern workplace, and people are going to want to work for and associate themselves with companies that focus on creating a more equal and ethical brand, with value that extends beyond the company itself to society, and even the planet.

Incentivizing education

Education is the very platform of eventual purpose, and the traditional classroom as we know it is in a state of massive disruption at the moment, teetering on the precipice of even bigger change. The old models of memorisation are being challenged, since we know that education should reflect the way things work in the real world, through things like clustered learning and teamwork. Technology and other new ways of student engagement are changing the approach, and turning things into a game at the same time. Gamification and incentivisation are nothing new in schools — any parent will tell you that kids are likely to participate in just about anything for the promise of not being left out of a pizza party — but things like apps take rewards to a whole new level. Teachers can now incentivise the whole learning experience with tools like Class Dojo and Goalbook.

Using gamification techniques and other tools that capture attention, create focus, and make learning fun for students is not going just to affect young students, but also will trickle up to the brand experience space. Adult learning is equally disrupted by these new technologies and opportunities to create more interesting, immersive ways to take in information and learn new skills. Apps like Duolingo and Coursera are proof positive that adults are not just hungry to keep learning, but also motivated by gamification techniques that add entertainment and milestones to the experience.

Hands-on virtual reality learning and in-the-moment livestreams are other great examples of how the educational space is transforming before our eyes as well as creating empathy in understanding. Our industry should keep close tabs on what is happening with education and take its cues as today’s students become future attendees and clients. Tying this future approach to education together with more of a focus on social good means that events can be used as catalysts for major purposeful movements.

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Working and innovating together as agents of change

We live in an age where collaboration is as easy as logging in online. We have tools in our pocket that can literally change the world. And the advent of the sharing economy has led to us being open to sharing the wealth between ourselves, from vacation homes to cars to knowledge on a specific skill or subject. Imagine if we take that one step further in the future and open-source our solutions for the world. Adopting an outlook of betapreneurship means that we can take the business adage of failing fast to a larger audience, creating innovations on a larger scale in order to make a bigger impact.

At mega-events like SXSW, you’ll see brands and innovative thinkers that are using the attendee base almost like guinea pigs to test out the viability of new products and ideas. What if we were able to do that with events that tackle social good head-on? Big movements could gain ground quickly, and change could occur that much faster. And those events would, in turn, attract that growing population who are both hungry for experiences and seeking out ways to be a part of a vision for change.

The world is shifting in dramatic ways, and the brand experience space is uniquely poised to harness those shifts in order to create truly impactful work. And when we base that work off of a shared purpose, bringing together like-minded people through education, events, and more, there is no end to the possibilities for our future.  

For more perspectives on our Global Outlook, download the insights paper: Tomorrow, Today: The Future of Brand Experience.

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