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Mastercard: Do Brands Matter?

The three Ps of Purpose: Passion, People, Profit

Photo by explorenation # on Unsplash

Author, Raja Rajamannar

Wake up. Read the news. See an ad. Scroll through social. See more ads. Pass by a digital billboard and see multiple ads. It’s not even noon and I’ve been confronted with more than 1,000 brand messages -this is something most people experience. Consumers today are bombarded with 3,000 to 5,000 brand messages a day, and because they don’t want to be bothered by ads, the rise of ad-blockers is also increasing. Is it even possible to cut through the clutter?

Brand loyalty is quickly becoming a thing of the past. 77 percent of brands could disappear and most consumers wouldn’t care. Today people can get whatever they want, whenever they want from a variety of different places. And yet, more than 80 per cent of people firmly believe brands have the power to affect positive social change and will be more likely to buy from a brand with purpose.

So, I ask the question, “Do brands really matter?” The answer is “yes,” but it is up to us to create brands that matter. 

We are in the age where brands today are defined by their impact on the world. The purpose is not just about going green or giving to charity. Those things are important, but in order to be successful, purpose needs to be something that is embedded into the core of your brand’s personality as well as its business strategy.  In fact, as many studies suggest, brands with a high sense of purpose have experienced a brand valuation increase of 175 per cent over the past 12 years.

The three Ps of Purpose: Passion, People, Profit


Having a great product or service is no longer enough.  To be successful, brands need to tap into the experiences and things that consumers care about the most.

Today we should be putting people’s passions – from sports and entertainment, cooking and travel, to charitable pursuits and beyond – at the top of the marketing funnel. By curating authentic passion-based experiences, you’re more likely to resonate with the consumer. Imagine, if you are a sports fan at a baseball game, and by using a certain product, you had an enhanced experience at that game by being able to meet the players – that speaks volumes. 

This model is something we’ve adopted at Mastercard, and we’ve found that by bringing our priceless brand personality to life, not just by great storytelling but through creating and enabling real experiences that people care about, we’ve become a more likeable brand and are differentiating our business.


Salary is no longer the top incentive to take a job.  86 percent of millennials would consider taking a pay cut to work at a company whose mission and values align with their own.  Purpose is transforming corporate cultures and employees are increasingly seeking out companies that embrace and encourage a shared sense of purpose.  

When a company has a strong sense of purpose that starts within and authentically emanates everywhere, it attracts talent, customers and creates overall brand affinity.  Charity always starts at home, and when you create a culture that’s accepting, encouraging and empowering, you can unleash your most powerful brand ambassadors yet, your employees.


Purpose is not philanthropy, but rather the ability to embed social good into the core of your business. And when 75 percent of people agree that companies can increase profits while improving economic and social conditions in their community, it’s a clear sign that purpose and business are not mutually exclusive.  The key is to find that authentic link through a passion that can connect your company to what matters to people.

We’re demonstrating this through our long-standing relationship with Stand Up to Cancer through marketing campaigns that are not only driving greater awareness, but also seamlessly allow our cardholders to participate in the fight against cancer, just by using their Mastercard. 

The call to action for companies is real: bring to the table their technologies and infrastructure, capital and creativity, and importantly, the power and role of their brand.

Guiding Principles to Purpose

Doing well by doing good is not a fad.  Purpose is a long-term commitment and is here to stay. Here are six principles to help guide you:

  1. Build on strengths – start with a cause or purpose tied to your business model or brand
  2. Focus on scalable ideas
  3. Use the power of collaboration and partnerships
  4. Commit for the long-haul
  5. Align the c-suite and secure commitment from the top 
  6. Engage your employees

And remember, your energy and focus is a currency – don’t waste it. Channel it to make brands that matter.


  1. Consumers are bombarded with 4000 – 10000 messages per day (Red Crow Marketing) 
  2. More than 80% of people saying they believe that brands have the power to effect positive social change (sourced from Truth About Global Brands, a McCann proprietary, extensive qual and quant survey conducted in 2017.) 
  3. 77% of brands could disappear and most consumers wouldn’t care (Source: Havas Meaningful Brands 2019 Study). 
  4. The purpose is a long-term commitment, not a one-off campaign but rather a value that is built up over time. Brands with a high sense of purpose have experienced a brand valuation increase of 175 per cent over the past 12 years (Kantar Consulting’s new Purpose 2020 report). 
  5. 87% of consumers said they’d purchase a product because a company advocated for an issue they cared about and more than 75% would refuse to purchase a product if they found out a company supported an issue contrary to their beliefs. (2017 Cone Communications CSR Study)
  6. 86 percent, of millennials (those between the ages of 22 and 37) would consider taking a pay cut to work at a company whose mission and values align with their own, according to LinkedIn’s https://www.cnbc.com/2018/06/27/nearly-9-out-of-10- millennials-would-consider-a-pay-cut-to-get-this.html 
  7. And when 75 percent of people agree that companies can increase profits while improving economic and social conditions in their community (2017 Edelman Trust Barometer)

Raja Rajamannar is the Chief Marketing & Communications Officer and President, Healthcare at Mastercard. With more than 30 years of experience as a global executive, Raja has been recognised for driving business transformation across a variety of geographies and multiple industries, including consumer products, financial services and healthcare. Most recently, Raja was named the 2018 WFA Global Marketer of the Year and assumed the honorary role as President of the World Federation of Advertisers in May 2019. He has been pivotal in driving Mastercard’s iconic marketing and branding changes such as the company’s transition to a symbol and sonic brand.

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