Don´t do just good. Make a meaningful difference.

I would like to make one thing very clear right from the beginning. Our job is first and foremost to help our clients grow. Selling more products, building infrastructures and platforms, creating and improving brand awareness and brand experiences is what we are supposed to do. We are not in the “do good business” we are in the “become better business”.

But! (Luckily there is a but to basically anything.) As we are all realizing every day, the world is changing rapidly and so are the expectations from people towards brands.

It´s not enough these days to throw a “me too” product on the market and support it with massive advertising penetration. If you want to be successful and sustain as a brand you need to be meaningful to people.

Today people not only want to consume and have the good feeling of having made a smart deal, they want to know what the brand is adding to their life and the lives of others. Buying today is almost a political act and the power of the people to impact change is greater than ever. If brands don´t understand that or even ignore it, they are in trouble.

Let´s look at some numbers. 55% of the people believe that companies and their brands have a more important role than governments in creating a better future. 77% of the people prefer to buy brands that share their values. Just looking at these two figures we should understand that doing good or (even better) being meaningful is not only “nice”, but it will drive the companies´ business.

How do I know? Because Havas is running a global study for more than 10 years where people are being asked what role brands do and should play in their life. (Find the top lines of the study here:

So, what makes a brand meaningful? It´s obviously not only the carbon footprint of a brand. To be perceived as meaningful, a brand has to deliver in three territories. A) Functional: Well, a product should do the job, right? B) Personal: Does the brand add to my personal needs and expectations. C) Collective: Here we´re talking about ethical, economic and environmental topics (to name a few).

Brands who manage to deliver on all three dimensions outperform their competition in all areas. They do better on the stock market by 134%. Their Share Of Wallet multiples by 9 and they are way ahead of their competitors in terms of purchase intent and advocacy.

And the brands who don´t deliver? Take this last number: 3 out of 4 brands could disappear today and no one would care! As a marketeer, I would start counting and checking if my brand does a meaningful difference. And if it doesn´t, I might start looking for a new job.

But back to the beginning. If we take our job as advertisers and comms experts seriously, we have to consult our clients to become more meaningful. Because being meaningful means being successful. And if we see ourselves in the “become better business”, we cannot exclude doing good anymore. It´s part of the deal.

And one more thing. This change towards more meaning of course impacts the people in the ad industry as well. Especially the younger kids want to know who they work for and how they can make an impact with their talent. And believe me, they do have their system of values and they really commit to it.

The more meaningful we are as an agency – the more meaningful the work is that we create for our clients, the easier it is to attract the best talent.


Eric Schoeffler, Chief Creative Officer Group Germany and Executive Creative Director Europe, Havas, Germany