Your brand is uniquely placed to be the force for a better world by serving humanity and aligning its purpose with human ends and goals.

How is your brand contributing towards human progress?

In business, there’s a saying that “what gets measured gets done”. I reckon that when it comes to human progress, business and brand performance, we need to start measuring different things. 

The current single most important indicator of economic performance and progress is Gross Domestic Product (GDP). This is the standard measure of the value added created through the production of goods and services in a country during a certain period. The concept of GDP didn’t exist until the Great Depression. When economist Simon Kuznets introduced it to Congress in 1934, he cautioned, “The welfare of a nation can … scarcely be inferred from a measurement of national income as defined above.” 

My point is that traditional economic and business measures are only part of a complete set of human and social indicators. We need to consider a wide range of progress indicators to create conditions where we can all thrive.

Here are seven different indices that measure human and social progress:

The Human Development Index (HDI) is a summary measure of average achievement in key dimensions of human development: a long and healthy life, being knowledgeable and having a decent standard of living.

The Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI) is a metric designed to take fuller account of the well-being of a nation, only a part of which pertains to the health of the nation’s economy, by incorporating environmental and social factors which are not measured by GDP.

The Thriving Places Index provides a shared set of goals and a robust reporting framework that shows the conditions for wellbeing at a local level. It radically challenges the current paradigm that defines progress by purely economic and financial means.

The Better Life Index compares well-being across countries, based on 11 topics the OECD has identified as essential, in the areas of material living conditions and quality of life: housing, income, jobs, community, education, environment, civic engagement, health, life satisfaction, safety, and work-life balance.

The Happy Planet Index is a compass towards genuine progress that measures sustainable wellbeing by combining three elements – life expectancy, wellbeing, and ecological footprint – to show how efficiently residents of different countries are using environmental resources to lead long, happy lives.

Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness (GNH) Index is a holistic approach to measure the happiness and wellbeing of the Bhutanese population and is a measurement tool used for policy making to increase GNH. The phrase ‘gross national happiness’ was coined by the 4th King of Bhutan, King Jigme Singye Wangchuck, in 1972 when he declared, “Gross National Happiness is more important than Gross Domestic Product.” 

The World Happiness Report reflects a worldwide consensus that a country’s success should be judged by the happiness and well-being of its people. It reviews the state of happiness in the world today and shows how the science of happiness explains personal and national variations in happiness.

World Happiness Report - top 25 rankings

Brands are uniquely placed to be the engine for a better world.

The message I get from these indices is that our economic system needs to shift to focus on bettering the lot of the average person, not just the marketplace. And this shift needs to come from businesses and brands, not governments or NGOs, because business is the most powerful creative force in the world. And when done at its best, anything is possible.

Your brand is uniquely placed to be the force for a better world by serving humanity and aligning its purpose with human ends and goals. The challenge for brands and brand owners is to embody the ideals and values that help us become more of whom we already are – to increase our individual and collective wellbeing – and to walk the talk. 

How is your brand delivering meaningful value to my life?

Richard Sauerman
Richard Sauerman
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