This year, creatives come together to mastermind around the topic of Conscious Business.
- What is a conscious business?
- How to help brands and organizations to serve with purpose?
- How can we as creatives fuel/speed up the adaptation of a conscious business model?
- Which one emerged first: conscious business, conscious consumer, or conscious creative? This is a close case to the question of the chicken or the egg.
With these queries in mind, I traveled to culture-packed city of Vienna, Austria.
For the first module, we were hosted by Virtue, the creative agency of Vice. The venue itself was located a 20-minute walk from the city center, close to beautiful Karlskirche.
People come from all over Europe, ranging in level of experience and expertise. There were freelance designers, advertisers, copywriters, as well as marketing and branding experts.
For the next 2,5 days, we engaged in lecture series, talks, and group exercises.
To sum up my experience, I’d like to share 3 golden nuggets I picked up during the Creative Incubator.
During the first exercise, almost all agreed that a purpose is a reason for something; a reason to exist. The reason to get up in the morning.
Julia von Winterfeldt (Founder & CEO of SOULWORX) describes purpose as a collection of three aspects: essence, bringing people together, mission and message.
To find your personal purpose, she encourages everyone to self-reflect.
- What do I radiate out?
- How can I bring people together?
- What is my mission?
- What message do I want to leave behind?
Like people, companies and businesses can be purpose-led. Some have it strong, some not. One of the big questions was if the purpose can be instilled into a company. I'd argue that purpose is always found, not instilled.
And can this idea be used to purpose-wash companies? To make them look good in the eyes of the consumer?
Eugen Boico (General Director at Publicis Moldova) enlightened us on the topic of brand and purpose.
Purposeful brands oppose existing paradigms, what he calls dogmas.
He describes dogmas as unwritten, imposed truths, such as
“Sportswear is only for athletes.”
“Humans can’t do magic.”
“Furniture is sold in one piece, delivered to your doorstep.”
Eugen illustrates dogmas as dragons worth slaying. And brands that slay dogmas are the ones that catch consumers’ admiration.
I see dogmas as layers of society. By peeling them off one by one, we are able to form our future on equality, diversity, and justice.
As I see it, paradigm shifts happen when dogmas are challenged and dismantled. Old standards are eventually replaced by new norms and stories.
During a group exercise, our members realized that we live in a transition phase where cognizant consumers are demanding more from businesses.
This has to lead them to enter a transition-phase: from mindless exploitation to a mindful economy.
Present-day buyers want ecologic, organic materials, and environmental-friendly production processes. Transparency, good quality, animal welfare, and worker’s rights are valued.
These collective shifts in values have led to changes in branding, storytelling, use of technology, and design. Of course, there is still room for improvement. For example, labor and working conditions in 3rd world countries.
What’s lacking is transparency. Personally, I’d like to see leaders and CEO’s admitting that they have concrete improvements to make, and not hide behind refined mission-statements.
It’s important to understand that change rarely happens overnight. Incremental change is fine, and that must be embraced.
The conscious business model is more relevant than ever. By working from a purpose-led perspective, we have the opportunity to create healing and practice being human. Needless to say, conscious businesses strive for a sustainable, healthier future. It’s about playing by the rules of capitalism; making a profit and creating win-win-win-win situations in all levels of stakeholders.