We use cookies to provide you with a responsive service to make your experience of our website(s) better. Please confirm that you agree to our use cookies
in accordance with our cookies policy.

By continuing to use our website we will assume that you are happy to receive non-privacy intrusive cookies.
Please be aware that if you disable cookies some functionality on the site will not work.

Alternatively, read our cookie policy to find out more about our cookie use and how to disable cookies.

Accept and continue

Authenticity is everything: when purpose and culture are one and the same

At a glance

  • Over the past ten years, organisations with purposeful customer value propositions collectively outperformed the S&P by almost 400%
  • 62% of consumers would like companies to stand up for issues they are passionate about
  • Tracy Waxman, Head of Marketing Communications, discusses why authenticity is everything when businesses purpose and culture are the same.

Companies that have a purpose are more successful than those that don’t.

Over the past ten years, organisations with purposeful customer value propositions collectively outperformed the S&P by almost 400% (Millward Brown Optimor & Jim Stengel, 2012). 62% of consumers would like companies to stand up for issues they are passionate about (Accenture, Global Consumer Pulse Research, 2018); and companies who have a high level of positive impact on people’s lives have grown their brand value 2.5 times more  versus those that don’t (Kantar Millward Brown, BrandZ, 2019).

Having a purpose certainly sounds like a good idea, but how do we go about acquiring one? It stands to reason that if we craft an inspiring statement that employees buy into, they will become passionate advocates and make the purpose a reality.

If only it was that easy.

Purpose can’t be manufactured

In a world where audiences – both internal and external to organisations – are increasingly cynical, authenticity of purpose is critical when it comes to shaping culture and delivering an authentic brand experience. 56% of consumers believe that companies use purpose and societal issues as a marketing ploy; and only 21% feel that the brands they use keep the best interests of society in mind (Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report, 2019).

Successful purpose-led organisations are, therefore, likely to be those that are able to demonstrate purpose through action; where less time is spent on the creation of a purpose and its expression and more on delivering tangible ‘reasons to believe’ that good business is just business as usual.

Substance over style: a Zurich UK experience

A good example that illustrates the blurred lines between purpose and culture is our recent experience at Zurich UK. Here the ‘task’ was to communicate the purpose that was already inherent in our organisational culture.

For a number of years Zurich had been reporting an impressive claims record of paying, on average, 99% of first party claims across the UK business.  Despite this impressive statistic, it had never been used in Zurich’s marketing campaigns, apart from annual press releases.  In other companies this would have been shouted from the rooftops.

Recently a large part of our role, as marketing, has been to communicate a purpose that already exists at the very core of Zurich’s DNA, which is simply to Do the Right Thing. Paying 99% of claims is only one piece of evidence that we ‘do the right thing’, but it is such a powerful one. After all, why does insurance exist if not to be there for our customers and pay their claims?

How has Zurich made good business good for business?

Focusing on paying claims via our 99% claims paid advertising campaign, and bringing our purpose to life in a tangible way with a relatively modest media budget, has delivered some impressive business results.

In the first year, brand consideration grew by 19% and the brand attribute ‘Is a company I trust’ grew by 22%. Zurich catapulted up the ranks of the cross-sector national UK Customer Satisfaction survey from position 188 to 12 in January 2019, achieving the biggest annual rise in customer satisfaction of any UK company. We ranked highest in the insurance industry for being the most ethical brand and the one consumers have the strongest emotional connection to.

From an internal perspective, a real sense of excitement and pride has permeated the company during our 99% Claims Paid campaigns. Brand-related posts on our internal social media channel have increased by 400% and 74% of employees felt “proud, positive, inspired and confident” as a result of the campaign (Zurich Pulse Survey, 2018). ‘Brand’ is now a permanent fixture in Executive Committee presentations and there is clarity among employees about what we stand for.

When purpose and culture are one and the same

 ‘Doing the right thing’ is nothing new for Zurich. It isn’t just a set of words – a clever marketing statement – but rather a way of life for everyone in the company.  There are so many examples of how we do the right thing across the whole business, beyond our amazing claims record. Our Charitable Trust, Zurich Community Trust, was founded in 1973 – long before Purpose Marketing was a ‘thing’ – and since then it has completed more than 4600 projects, donated 300,000 hours involving 45,000 employees and has given more than £90 million in grants funded by Company, Employee and Trust donations. Our Diversity and Inclusion policy has been recognised as best in class. We were the first UK insurer to launch SignLive, a service enabling customers with impaired hearing to contact us using a video interpreter. Our commitment to sustainability has placed us in the top 1% of the insurance sector in the 2019 Dow Jones Sustainability Index. The list goes on.

Certainly, while paying claims – and understanding that we exist to make things right for our customers – is a powerful expression of our purpose, it is only one strand of our DNA.

What can the industry learn from Zurich’s experience?

  • A company’s purpose should be inextricably linked to its values
  • If you can’t immediately name a few examples that illustrate your purpose, then it probably isn’t your purpose after all.
  • Identify what you stand for now. An authentic brand purpose encapsulates what employees already live and breathe every day.

Tracy Waxman

Head of Marketing Communications, Zurich UK

This article was written by Tracy Waxman at the request of the FCA, for a collection of essays from industry leaders, professional bodies and culture experts exploring the role of purpose in driving a healthy, sustainable culture. For more information, please click here.

Image © Getty

Leave a comment