|Refreshed and republished on February 20th, 2023|
|This post was originally published on January 16th, 2020, and has been enhanced and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.|
In essence, the purpose of a brand or company can be defined as a mission or set of values that centre around solving a particular problem or societal need. Any business action, product or service should always tie back to that purpose.
Navigate the below menu to learn more about:
- Why does the world need purpose-driven brands?
- Balancing profit with purpose
- The challenges of building a brand with purpose
- The value of building a brand with purpose
- How can we help you find and build your brand purpose?
- A vision for the future of purpose-driven chocolate brands.
Why does the world need purpose-driven brands?
Towards the end of 2018, I had the opportunity to attend Professor Michael Porter’s Shared Value course at Harvard Business School. Professor Porter and his team invited us to reflect on how up until recently, society has grown to believe that social problems are the responsibility of governments and NGOs and not of private companies or businesses. However, this lack of shared responsibility between the private and public sectors has led to the destruction of our planet and one of the biggest issues facing society today: climate change.
We firmly believe that companies have the most powerful capacity to offer real and scalable solutions to pressing and urgent problems. Luker Chocolate was founded with the mission to create shared value at origin, using chocolate to transform the lives of cocoa-growing communities while strengthening our business model.
We also believe it’s important to share experiences and lessons learned. We are optimistic and celebrate alongside an increasingly large group of companies worldwide who understand the power of using business as a tool for change.
These include existing companies and the strong wave of new social entrepreneurs who we should encourage, help, and empower.
Balancing profit with purpose
Within the concept of becoming a brand with purpose, a new notion of business strategy can be found and represents a real and powerful disruption to our understanding of business: creating shared value. Although it is a concept that is maturing in different ways, only the bravest entrepreneurs —those who dare to work with it—will help refine its understanding.
Creating shared value means solving a social problem through a business model, a business that manages to create economic value (or profit) from solving a social problem. And it is precisely the ability to create profit that allows us to think about sustainable and scalable solutions, which is something that typically NGOs or governments cannot do.
In addition to the concept of shared value, many other lines of thinking that point towards a common interest. Among them, I invite you to study the powerful initiatives led by Sir Ronald Cohen and his ideas on Impact Investment, the vision of B-Lab and its growing and inspiring B-Corp movement, and the different approaches within conscious capitalism.
Independent of the academic preferences and affinities of each of the approaches, what I really want to invite our customers, suppliers, allies, entrepreneurs and business people to do, is to start asking ourselves very seriously: what is the role we want our companies and our brands to play in the urgent mission to change the direction of our society? How can we reinterpret the role of business to provide solid solutions to relevant problems?
The challenges of building a brand with purpose
Since 1906, our purpose has been to improve the lives of Colombia’s rural communities. Throughout history, we have tried different approaches, from philanthropy, and corporate social responsibility, to social work by the Luker Foundation on education and entrepreneurship issues.
More recently, we have been evolving that interest to incorporate the idea of shared value at the heart of our business strategy. This has not been easy or fast. Building a brand with purpose using shared value strategies is not a clear or simple path, especially when it’s a business that is already up and running. It involves adapting and rethinking multiple activities during the process.
One of the most complex challenges we are looking at today is measuring social impact and its correlation to the creation of economic value for the company. However, despite the challenges and demands of my professional experience, it has been an incredibly rewarding. We have followed a path that has allowed us to innovate and visualize new ways our operation and business model can positively impact society.
The value of building a brand with purpose
Along our journey, we have been able to stop to reflect and explore our industry’s most complex problems. Namely, the cocoa-producing territories in Colombia where we work have been marked by historical violence, drugs, illegality, poverty and lack of opportunities such as infrastructure and education, among many others.
Seeing these problems from the perspective of shared value has led us to innovate to try to solve things. Innovation is an indispensable tool for incorporating shared value into a strategy and is an absolute priority when balancing purpose with profit. Since these adverse conditions are unchartered territory, experimentation allows us to learn and deal with different challenges.
At Luker Chocolate, we provide chocolate as an ingredient for industry and manufacture finished products for other brands worldwide. Our clients range from small artisanal chocolatiers and entrepreneurs launching new brands or products to large, well-established retailers. They all have three things in common:
- a marked interest in and a commitment to supporting social and environmental impacts
- an entrepreneurial mindset that looks for innovation
- and a clear priority for superior flavour and quality
As a B4B (Business for business) company we aim to help other companies create purpose-driven chocolate products.
How can we help you find and build your brand purpose?
Our clients are the most active protagonists of The Chocolate Dream, our long-term sustainability plan to transform the cocoa regions where we operate. We collaborate with our clients to fortify their brand and business models by aligning our purpose with theirs, leveraging various strategies to achieve shared goals
- A connection to origin through impact projects
Alongside our clients, we co-create social impact projects in the different cocoa regions and for the communities that are part of Luker’s cocoa farms. We jointly invest in education, entrepreneurship, art and culture, and the environment.
We are committed to improving rural economic diversification along different axes, such as tourism and other market initiatives, to build prosperity and strengthen regional competitiveness.
In these projects, we can also help our clients to design unique strategies to connect their consumers with their impact, improving their brand equity through emotional and meaningful connections.
- Co-creation: Our mantra for innovation and entrepreneurship
Co-creation is more than a buzzword – it’s our guiding philosophy for innovation and entrepreneurship. We believe the best ideas come from collaboration and partnership, so we work closely with our clients to co-create delicious, unique chocolate products that stand out in a crowded market.
Our co-creation process starts with listening carefully to our clients’ goals, values, and vision for their brand. Through a collaborative and iterative process, we work together to develop a brand purpose that captures the essence of who they are, what they stand for, and what makes them unique in the market.
Once we have established the brand purpose, we use it to guide the development of custom chocolate products that align with the brand’s values and goals (👇which is the next step👇). We experiment with different flavor profiles, packaging designs, and other elements to create a product that truly reflects the brand’s purpose and speaks to its target audience.
- Impact through purpose-driven new product development
As well as tasting unique thanks to being made from 100% Cacao Fino de Aroma, many new product developments are being conceptualized and designed with a social mission in mind. We ensure the sourcing of cocoa and its ingredients through sustainable and ethical practices; your brand can reduce its environmental impact while supporting fair wages and better working conditions for farmers and workers in the supply chain.
Additionally, sustainable packaging and environmental impact are a central part of our products, and we are improving transparency and traceability across our entire cocoa supply chain.
A vision for the future of purpose-driven brands
These are only three of the many other initiatives we have that help develop a brand with purpose. The purpose must be discovered, visualized, and encouraged to be incorporated at the forefront of any venture.
We dream of helping to create, together with our customers, a sustainable chocolate industry where we use chocolate as a tool for change. An industry where people are placed at the centre of the conversation and where collaboration is at the heart of our efforts.
Do you want to discover our delicious, fine, flavour chocolates? Let’s first talk about the impact you want to create in the world and how to build your purpose.