Transcendent branding: the human purpose of brands
The human purpose of brands

When public and private organizations decide to take time out of their dizzying routine (victims of Carl Honoré's so-called "culture of haste") to question the PURPOSE of their existence(why I do what I do), it means that the time has come to rethink their horizon and the direction of their activities(how I am living and what I am doing).

The usefulness of brands: satisfying needs and desires

The brand was born with the objective of satisfying the needs and desires of human beings through products, services and experiences. Throughout history, human beings have evolved trying to find and satisfy these needs and desires (our purpose and PURPOSE) by resorting to these products, services and experiences (our means), offered by organizations (brands) and by individuals (personal brands).

The main dilemma of human beings is to confuse the means with the end. That is to say, to consider that our reason for being(PURPOSE) is to generate and obtain an economic benefit (means) to satisfy needs and desires and not the other way around. Or what is the same, the mistake is to turn our reason for being into merchandise. As the writer, humanist and economist José Luis Sampedro said: "values have been replaced by economic interest. Our culture has turned everything into merchandise".

Sustainable development and progress from an ethical perspective

According to the UN's World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED), the concept of sustainable development refers to "those paths of social, economic and political progress that meet the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs". It further qualifies that "sustainable development requires the satisfaction of the basic needs of all and extends to all the opportunity to fulfill their aspirations for a better life".

This common ideal of sustainable development alludes to the ethics of the current coexistence of human beings with their peers, their natural environment and their planet.

The Spanish philosopher and intellectual Fernando Savater indicates in his book Ethics for Amador that "ethics is nothing more than the rational attempt to find out how to live better". And this involves an ethical project where human beings are able to live and empathize with each other, based on "freedom, justice and assistance".

We are talking about the balance of a species with the resources of its environment. To promote economic and social progress while respecting its ecosystem, to which it belongs. Something that does not seem to be happening nowadays, since we are satisfying our needs and desires at the cost of wearing out our environment and going against the current of Natural Law.

Towards transcendent branding: the human purpose of brands

People, therefore, have an important challenge if they are to survive as a species: to create brands that serve to progress as humans and build ethical, fair and sustainable development. Consequently, individual and common purpose must be reflected in organizational purpose.

Branding is responsible for identifying, building, managing and deploying the purpose of brands and materializing it in products, services and experiences (being). Marketing, on the other hand, helps to distribute these brands in the market and the environment (doing). And finally, communication makes it easier to convey these messages to the audience (to seem). The human and ethical equation is clear: to be and to do rather than to appear. Therefore, marketing and social communication are limiting if there is no prior branding and business strategy with purpose.

The development of brands depends on branding with a human, ethical and sustainable perspective. This is why ecologists, political scientists, sociologists and philosophers are needed to help provide them with human strategies and positioning, not just marketing, communication and business managers.

As was said at the Davos Forum (WEF), we are in the era of entrepreneurial humanism.

SDGs: main human KPI

The Sustainable Development Goals set by the UN are a very useful roadmap to measure the real steps of humanity's progress and purpose.

In response to this new roadmap, we find economic alternatives such as Conscious Capitalism, Doughnoth Economics or the Economy of the Common Good. Influence platforms such as B Corp Community, Brands With Values or Sustainable Brands. International events such as Davos, NESI... All are initiatives that are helping and offering tools to rethink the way to create, manage and communicate human and ethical brands.



Ethics starts, as Savater says, from respect and freedom. That is why each human being decides to live his or her life as he or she wishes. Even so, this implies that each one is responsible for the consequences of betting or not on this common ethical project and the implications it has on the coexistence between human beings.

We are faced with the concept of global man, the human being who thinks and acts as a whole and not as the sum of individuals.

Sustainability is a question of ethics. Of ethical brands and ethical human beings who think about their today but also about the future they will leave to their descendants. A long-term and intergenerational issue.

Brands that do not contribute to a more just, dignified, happy, humane and sustainable life will not be transcendent brands. The distinction between consumers, companies and governments is breaking down. We are facing a greater challenge: brands created by people for people to be better people.

The question is whether branding is helping to create transcendent brands as a means for the development of human purpose.

In an increasingly automated world, human value takes center stage. The machine age can be a real opportunity to empower the human age. Brands without human purpose will not be, just that, human.

More shared knowledge about Brands with Values that help build a more just, humane and sustainable society at:

Related articles