1st Edition

Brands on a Mission How to Achieve Social Impact and Business Growth Through Purpose

By Myriam Sidibe Copyright 2020
    226 Pages 34 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Winner of the Bronze 2021 AXIOM Business Book Award in the category of Philanthropy / Nonprofit / Sustainability.

    Brands on a Mission explores the importance of creating a performance culture that is built on driving impact through purpose, and the type of talent required to drive these transformational changes within companies – from CEO to brand developers.

    Using evidence from interviews and stories from over 100 CEOs, thought leaders and brand managers, the book presents an emergent model that organisations can follow to build purpose into their growth strategy – and shows how to bridge the gap between Brand Say and Brand Do. Readers will learn from the real experts in the field: how Paul Polman, former CEO of Unilever, built purpose into the DNA of his company; what keeps Alan Jope (new CEO, Unilever) and Emmanuel Faber (CEO, Danone) awake at night; and how brand developers from Durex, Dove, Discovery and LIXIL have made choices and the reasons behind them. In this book you will learn how a soap brand Lifebuoy taught one billion people about hygiene, how a beer is tackling gender-based violence, and how a toothpaste is tackling school absenteeism amongst many others. Renowned experts like Peter Piot (Director, London School of Health and Tropical Medicine), Michael Porter (Professor, Harvard School of Business), Jane Nelson (Director, Corporate Responsibility Initiative, Harvard Kennedy School) and Susie Orbach (leading feminist and formerly professor, London School of Economics) also share examples, data and their everyday experiences of helping corporates create a culture of purpose. And leading NGOs and UN experts like Lawrence Haddad (Executive Director, GAIN) and Natalia Kanem (Executive Director of UNFPA) will recount how the public and private sector have worked together to create an accelerated path to reaching the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

    The book provides a clear pathway of how to take brands through the journey of developing impactful social missions and driving business growth, and is an essential guide for both managers and students alike.

    1. Why Brands Need a Social Mission
    2. Dove and the Impact of Body Image
    3. Driving Mass Behavioural Change
    4. Durex: How a global condom brand helps reduce HIV infections
    5. Collaborating with Outside Partners: How do strange bedfellows get along?
    6. How Lifebuoy Secured a Seat at the Table of Lifesavers
    7. Brand Advocacy: Can brands drive social movements?
    8. How Discovery Limited Promotes Health through its Vitality Brand
    9. Carling Black Label #NoExcuse: An alcohol brand counters violence against women
    10. What do Numbers Really Mean: The challenge of measurement and accountability for brands on a mission
    11. How LIXIL is Changing the Narrative on Sanitation
    12. Winning Support within the Corporation
    13. How Processed Food Brands can gain a Social Purpose: The public health challenge of this century and the biggest opportunity for brands
    14. Concluding Thoughts


    Myriam Sidibe is one of the world’s leading voices on brands that improve public health. From within Unilever, she created a movement to change the handwashing behaviours of one billion people, the single biggest hygiene programme in the world. She is a senior fellow at Harvard Kennedy School and Board Member of Wateraid UK and Kilimanjaro Blind Trust.

    "Purpose-driven marketing, when done right, can create social impact that can improve millions of lives while simultaneously improving company competitiveness. Too many companies, however, pursue hype that delivers no real results. Myriam Sidibe draws on her 15 years at the intersection of branding and public health to describe how to do it right. This book is a valuable starting point for any marketeer with a brand on a mission."

    Michael E. Porter, Bishop William Lawrence University Professor, Harvard Business School

    "The days of getting big and rich then giving back as a means to repair the damage are over. There will be neither talent nor time for this model. Brands will only succeed if they are on a mission that serves the people’s power. Myriam’s book explores why and how brands can achieve this, and invites everyone to join. What is at stake in this book is no less than reinventing the role of the market economy for social justice."

    Emmanuel Faber, CEO Danone

    "This sprightly volume introduces Mother Teresa to Mad Men. It shows how product branding, so often maligned, can bring substantial social value."

    Professor Richard Zeckhauser, Frank P. Ramsey Professor of Political Economy, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University

    "In this fast-paced book, Dr Myriam Sidibe conveys the ‘how’ of successful branding through purpose. This notion is generating intense interest, especially among young people of the ‘Sustainable Development Generation’ the world over, who identify with the principle of taking action towards the social good. The real-life examples are practical, useful and inspiring."

    Dr Natalia Kanem, Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund

    "Dr Sidibe’s work provides an extremely valuable contribution to public health, and the role all parts of society need to play – from governments, to local communities, to NGOs, to business and academia."

    Professor Peter Piot, Director and Handa Professor of Global Health, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine 

    "Brands on a Mission is essential reading for anyone who wants to drive positive change through their brand, not just talk about it. For anyone who believes that brand ‘purpose’ means something more than a warm and fuzzy ad. And for anyone who wants to understand how to align multiple organisations and interests behind a common goal. Myriam’s story is unique, but its lessons are universal."

    Andy Last, CEO MullenLowe Salt

    "An inspiring new perspective on rethinking the role of businesses in public health."

    Camilla Cavendish, author of Extra Time, 10 lessons for an ageing population       

    "Partnering with both the brand Lifebuoy and the company Unilever was a tremendous boost to our fight against trachoma. This book is an admirable guide to how to create such partnerships effectively in pursuit of the Global Goals."

    Caroline Harper, CEO Sightsavers

    "The best marketing goes way beyond promoting a company’s commercial goals; it connects brands to deeper consumer needs and public good. Myriam Sidibe inspires marketing and business leaders to find that sweet spot between their corporate interests and their purpose. She shows how marketing spending can change the world for the better."

    Deb Gordon, author of The Health Care Consumer’s Manifesto and former Chief Marketing Officer, Network Health

    "We need more voices from Africa and even more African women leaders that challenge the status quo and contribute to the economic development of the continent. Dr Sidibe’s work is inspiring and gives hope for business models that keep the well-being of our mothers and children at the heart of the debate."

    Landry Signe, author of Unlocking Africa’s Business Potential, Brookings fellow

    "A must read for any leader who wants to ensure that their business model stays relevant for the turbulent decades to come. Practical examples on how to position your brands to be a force for good and keep relevance."

    Paul Polman, Co-Founder and Chair of IMAGINE, and Co-founder of the Business and Sustainable Development Commission, Former CEO of Unilever