At a glance

Ben & Jerry’s, the ice cream brand owned by Unilever, has been purpose-driven from its inception, and offers valuable lessons to marketers that are less well-versed in this area.

Why it matters

Brand purpose has become a central element of the marketing toolkit, especially as consumers place greater scrutiny on corporate values. Failing to take a stance on important topics thus puts a brand at risk.


  • Ben & Jerry’s is willing to tackle issues, such as criminal-justice reform, that are not explicitly connected with ice cream.
  • Trying to identify the “perfect” brand purpose is often a flawed strategy, especially as it can ultimately be inauthetnic.
  • Failing quickly, and spreading the lessons in thoroughgoing ways, can be a valuable process.

“The primary reason why so many companies are getting their ass kicked is because they actually don't stand for something important,” argued Matthew McCarthy, CEO of Unilever’s Ben & Jerry (B&J) ice-cream brand.