The brand creates the business model, not the other way around
3 min read
Podcast series

Brands can be purely cosmetic or they can be a force of change, a leadership tool. Every day, we see brands advertise seemingly progressive advertising slogans.

Oftentimes, we are left disappointed that these brands don’t live up to their advertising campaigns. This episode is about building brands our conscience can live with, brands that make a genuine positive change in the world, rather than merely a facade that our conscience can live with.

This article lays out what went on in the discussion between Rupen Desai, Global Chief Marketing Officer at Dole Sunshine Company and Subodh Deshpande, Partner and Business Humanizer at Innate Motion


Fierce empathy

The world is constantly being faced with challenges. At the time this article is being written, there is a lot going on: the Ukraine war, recovery from the pandemic, and global supply-chain interruptions. In these moments, it can be easy to prioritize profit and overproduction over purpose. However, it is in these very moments that the importance of a strong and genuine purpose truly shines.

As Subodh Deshpande puts it, “that’s where purpose becomes extremely important because purpose becomes our north star that will guide us.” If a company, for example, prioritizes ethical sourcing of materials as its core purpose, then that purpose becomes its north star. This means that the company might have to make some tough decisions in order to stay focused on its core purpose.

By treating purpose with such disciplined seriousness and ensuring that a brand embodies such purpose, brands with a conscience are born. Furthermore, when profit is connected to empowering people to thrive, it is regenerative. When profit comes at a cost to people’s lives, it is degenerative.

Radical Collaboration

Being part of a regenerative business movement, Rupen Desai started The Shed 28. The Shed 28 is an initiative that helps brands grow and scale purposefully. In addition to Dole, they work with other companies like Johnson & Johnson Vision Care and Sustenir. It is The Shed 28 team that engineered Dole’s new direction. Dole now is guided by its #SunshineForAll belief: the belief that good nutrition should be a human right, as abundant, accessible, and equitable as sunlight.

It is no easy feat to take a small group of people’s mission and percolate it down a vast organization with large networks of people. Dole works with Innate Motion to bring its purpose to life and to navigate the complexities of bringing crowds of people onboard a new vision. Innate Motion helps Dole figure out how to make the new direction part of employees’ daily lives and become second nature in accordance with its renewed purpose.

Call for change

Brands are the bridge that connects companies to their consumers. They are not just a language or easily identifiable imagery. They can be a way of doing in and of themselves. This happens when the brand’s values and the business model become intrinsically and structurally aligned. In fact, in order for a business to be genuinely regenerative, the brand cannot merely be a PR tool – the brand must be a leadership tool.

Brands are leadership tools when they directly and deliberately shape the business model. This can be in many forms like what a company does to maintain its day-to-day operations, how a company ships, sells and packages its products, and how a company changes the lives of its consumers

When a brand’s message and values do not shape the business model they become an advertising play. A false generosity of sorts; a facade.