Rethinking value: Purpose-driven design as a business model

Daniel Tuitt
4 min readOct 4, 2020

It’s not just about short-term profitability within your business but how you can drive long-term impact in a meaningful way.

There are so many new challenges the world faces. Corporations, governments or communities alone can’t solve these global issues that affect the health, global equity, and sustainability of our planet. Your organisation needs to rethink how it can drive new value now and in the future in a systemic way. A systemic model is where groups of organisations work together to share resources and knowledge to transfer activities to others.

Businesses were built with a goal to create value through their offerings in exchange for revenue that a consumer is willing to exchange money for. There has been a paradigm shift as businesses need to do more as customers, employees and communities demand a model that includes people, planet and profit.

The era of B-Corps

Purpose-driven business models are on the rise. With over 3,563 organisations across 74 countries are certified B-Corporations, who are committed to becoming more compassionate and accountable as a business to their community. Purpose-driven means that the brand is making a deep connection with consumers and are doing more for communities. Where every decision made by the business positively supports the world and people that populate it.

According to Deloitte, purpose-driven companies grow x3 faster on average than competitors. It can prove challenging for brands are looking for ways to turn purposeful strategies into tangible touchpoints for users, customers and employees. Thus, going beyond just Corporate Social Responsibility, giving back profits, catchy slogans and marketing campaigns.

So, what can you do!

The true power of purpose-driven business models

Which factors can influence purpose-driven business models? How can you improve your organisation in any sector to support society?

Brands like Patagonia, the multi-million-dollar American clothing company — that markets sustainable outdoor clothing and appeal. For the past 45 years, Patagonia has been a business at the groundbreaking of environmental activism, sustainable supply chains, and advocacy for public lands and the outdoors. Its mission has long been to “Build the product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis”.

It is not enough for organisations to say they want to become a purpose-driven business. It involves vision from the founders/ executives and clarity through an aligned vision. This means that organisations need to re-invent their business models to become a business that is aligned with the planet, people, and profit.

Alex Osterwalder’s, Business Model Canvas is one of the best techniques organisations can use to create and pivot their business model. Over time, there have been many iterations of the canvas that focus on social good like the Social Business Model Canvas by Tandemic.

The biggest challenge for most businesses and founders is the ability to take a possible solution from just an idea to executing it to a viable business. The social business model canvas is an incredible tool that can help you visualise how to your value proposition for society and measure impact. In just 10 blocks it is easier to share language between practitioners — enabling you to speak concretely about your business as it moves through the design process.

It starts with you

Designing a purpose-led business model is not easy!

Not all your customers will understand or care at the start and it takes time to build a strategy that is not seen as a surface-level gimmick. Better know as purpose washing — where a brand spends more money and time on marketing themselves as being a community and mission-based organisation than on minimising their impact.

It takes strong leaders, empowering your teams to understand what purpose means and design the right ecosystem that can support meaningful change.



Daniel Tuitt

Innovation | Strategy | Making a difference through writing, listening, talking and doing