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by Loren G. Edelstein | May 30, 2017

Loren G. Edelstein, editor in chief of Meetings & ConventionsEarlier this year I took a trip that I will remember forever. It wasn’t just the sheer beauty of the place — Banff, Alberta, in the Canadian Rockies — but also a unique and inspiring conference I attended there, and the many wonderful people I met along the way (special shout-out to my personal tour guide, Mark Zanetti, business development manager of Banff & Lake Louise Tourism). 

The majestic Fairmont Banff Springs was the host hotel to The Gathering, a celebration of “cult brands,” now in its fourth year. The meeting bills itself as an “informal coming together of the enlightened, influential illuminati behind the famous names that are getting customer engagement right.” 

A common thread among speakers was that brands have a responsibility to better the world. By doing so, they will earn respect and loyal clientele. That concept is the basis of a book, Good Is the New Cool: Market Like You Give a Damn, by Afdhel Aziz and Bobby Jones. “Brands do well by doing good,” Aziz told the audience. “Brands should solve problems, from the everyday to the epic.” 

Jonathan Mildenhall, chief marketing officer of Airbnb, took the concept of purpose-driven brands to a personal level: "I ask myself every Friday, have I been the best human being I can possibly be, in the workplace and also at home?" That echoes his brand’s statement of purpose, which Mildenhall calls "really big and really noble." The mission: "to create a world in which 7.5 billion people can belong anywhere." 

An ad that Airbnb ran during the 2015 ESPY awards, where Caitlyn Jenner received the Arthur Ashe Courage Award, drove that point home with a timely and poignant message about "mankind." Check it out here.