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  • Writer's pictureAmy Zwagerman

Stand Out in the Sea of Sameness with Purpose-Driven Marketing

Updated: Apr 28

Passion x Purpose: The Sweetgreen Model

This is a story about purpose-driven marketing and what happens when a brand decides to lean all the way into their passion.

Sweetgreen Logo on Green Background
Sweetgreen Logo (Image courtesy of Sweetgreen)

As a busy founder, I don’t typically set aside the time to go out to lunch. Like most of our kind, I can usually be found eating something in between video calls and deadlines (yes, I know this is an unhealthy practice -- no need to point it out), but I decided to get away from things for a bit and grabbed lunch at the local Sweetgreen a few days ago. It was during this brief respite that I noticed the company’s core values and was struck by their commitment to 'doing what’s right’. I thought it exemplified a unique take for a business in the food service industry -- especially since they didn’t just leave it at that. They put their money where their mouth is (or, in this case, a sign where their food is) and listed out exactly how they plan to ‘do what’s right’ next to each value. 

Sweetgreen Core Values

These six core values embody our culture, spirit and dedication to doing what’s right:

1. Win , win, win — create solutions where the company wins, the customer wins, the community wins

2. Think sustainably — make decisions that last longer than you will

3. Keep it real — cultivate authentic food and relationships

4. Add the sweet touch — create meaningful connections everyday from farm to patron

5. Make an impact — leave people better than you found them

6. Live the sweet life — celebrate your passion and your purpose


In the event you are not familiar with corporate value statements, I will share that they are typically more aspirational and even, nondescript, in nature. In fact, “55% of all Fortune 100 companies claim integrity is a core value, 49% espouse customer satisfaction, and 40% tout teamwork”, which, in my opinion, equates to saying, we’re a business and we operate the way a business is supposed to (Harvard Business Review, 2002). This same article sums up this idea by saying the values are effectively “permission-to-play values” because they “reflect the minimum behavioral and social standards required” to operate as a professional business. The story is titled ‘Make your Values Mean Something’; and while it’s a bit dated, I think the message is still quite relevant. In fact, I was particularly happy to see the writer take the stance that company values need to ‘be aggressively authentic’. It is something I believe in quite strongly and want to shine a light on this year both for myself and the clients I work with.


To give you an idea of why Sweetgreen's core values struck such a chord with me -- and ultimately why I decided to write a blog about it -- I decided to a little research into Chop't, one of the company's primary competitors.

Chop't Core Values

1. Innovate -- We constantly innovate our menu and technologies to give you better access to nutritious food and a better (more convenient) way to enjoy it.

2. Serve with Urgency -- We value giving you a seamless experience rooted in hospitality, with respect for your time and accuracy with each order.

3. Be Generous -- Chop't Gives allows us to give year round, and support our Chopt communities, team members and the charitable partners we believe in.

When comparing the two sets of core values, you can easily get a sense of how each company thinks about the business and what they prioritize. Chop’t told us they value innovation that drives convenience, service and, more specifically, timeliness and accuracy, and giving back, whereas Sweetgreen communicated they care about the impact they make on the world via as well as the health and well-being of the employees, customers, and communities they engage with. The point being that both companies have created a differentiated set of values that they believe will help them be successful and attract the most customers.

Now, assuming both chains are accessible to you and you’re craving a salad, which restaurant will you go to? 

Don't worry, this isn’t a real quiz and there is no right or wrong answer to my question. The decision about which brand to support and where you want to eat is yours alone to make, but I will say that brands who lean into a strong set of purpose-driven values like Sweetgreen will attract customers who appreciate their position (and even some that don’t).

Don't believe me? Here is a quote from Forbes on this very subject:

“Brands that spark conversations and lead cultural movements earn a place in consumers’ lives. By connecting people with ways to live better and act on causes that matter to them, you can form relationships that go beyond financial transactions. Sweetgreen is a powerful example of a brand marrying purpose with profit to scale growth and impact.” - Forbes (2021)

Why do I care enough about all of this to write a blog about a salad company? First, it’s 2024 and I personally want to support businesses that care about their employees, their communities, and their impact on the world — or, at the very least, aren’t turning a blind eye to their effect on it. And, guess what, I know I am not alone. According to a recent report published by the global business consulting firm, Bain & Company, "brand purpose and environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) considerations are now key purchasing criteria for more than half of consumers globally" (2023).

There is a literal army of consumers looking to support the people and companies that align with their values, so I will argue that it’s up to business owners, and entrepreneurs in particular, to figure out how they want the companies they build to impact the world.

Second, as I’ve already told you, I’m all about helping founders build purpose-driven businesses. In other words, "This sort of thing is my bag, baby!" (yes, I stole that line from Austin Powers).


Interested in learning more about purpose-driven marketing or how the Launch Box can help your business grow -- schedule an introductory call today.


Mike Myers as Austin Powers
Mike Myers as Austin Powers (Image courtesy of Warner Bros)


P. Lencioni, Make your Values Mean Something, Harvard Business Review (2002)

E. Almquist, K. Edwards, P. Dowling, and A, King, Does a Purpose Help Brands Grow, Bain & Company (2023)

Pink Slash Marking the End of the Blog Post


About  Me 

Hi, I'm Amy! I'm the founder and CMO of the Launch Box, a boutique marketing services firm where I serve as an advisor, mentor and Fractional CMO to entrepreneurs at every stage of the startup journey. My primary mission is to help founders like you achieve their dreams by learning how to think more like a marketer. 😘 During my time off, you will either find me lounging with Zoey (my canine partner in crime) or engaging in a never-ending quest to make the perfect pizza. (SRSLY, if you want to talk about startup marketing 👩🏻‍💻, my 🐕 or 🍕, DM me anytime.

  - Amy & Zoey

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