And the Word of the Day is… Purpose

Ahh… Sunday morning at SXSW.  It was time to roll out of bed, kick back in a big overstuffed chair with a steaming cuppa French Roast and The New York Times, right?  Um, nope, not so much.  Despite last night’s completely aggregious time change, today’s crowd seemed enthused and ready to rumble early.

For me, several of the sessions I attended today served as validation that Purpose is really catching on out there.  First, in R/GA’s Congratulations, Your Brand is About to Become Obsolete, the presenters talked about how Purpose is the core that can and should drive a brand forward in today’s landscape.  Interestingly, they connected Purpose to the concept of PLAY:  that is, making interactions with the brand play-like, so that engaging again and again over time feels natural, participatory (individually and collectively), and just plain fun for people.   “Playful Purpose”, I believe they called it.  I must admit, I like the idea of systematically thinking about how to make it fun for people to participate in a brand’s Purpose, not just in terms of a one-shot but over time.

Another session, the wonderfully heady Getting Wicked: Understanding the Problems of Convergence Culture, dealt with Purpose in a very different way.  This one was a discussion of how brands can serve as change agents to help us solve some of the wickedest problems in our society; the ones where even addressing them seems to contribute to the confusion.  At one point in the discussion, it became clear that a brand’s essential Purpose can serve as a terrific jumping-off point for the organization + individuals to come together, contribute thinking, and marshal resources toward solving these most challenging of social problems.  A rather obvious example would be the Dove “Real Beauty” platform, which creates a focal point for addressing the complex social problem of our society’s limiting beliefs about womens’ bodies and what constitutes beauty.  So… Purpose is the word.  Otherwise, all in all, it was just another inspiring day at SXSW!


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