Kirsten Ludwig is the president and founder of In Good Co, a Los Angeles-based creative agency working at the intersection of purpose and innovation. I caught up with her recently to find out more about the work they do, what advice she has for leaders in the purpose-driven space, and why Los Angeles has a chance to redefine the future of work.
I began by asking her about their philosophy on purpose and brands. “We make brands that lead in ways that go beyond profit, that shape culture and make a world we're all stoked to live in. Our philosophy on purpose and brands is that, first and foremost, you won't make an impact without defining what purpose means to you. Today, consumers are looking to align with brands that share their values, so it's the beginning of everything for us and where we start with every brand we work with.”
This has led to a diverse cross-section of clients for the agency. “We work with everyone from Fortune 500s to start-ups. We work across disciplines too—we've found that purpose-driven work resonates across the spectrum. In food, health and beauty, some clients include: Mars, Belcampo, Amass, Nakedpoppy, Elysia Life Care and BareSnacks. In tech: Waze, Google, Sonos, Pinterest and Booster. We also have a lot of fun in other categories, like cannabis, working with Serra, Beautygrass and 710Labs. And in retail, working with Joann's, KEDS and UnderArmour. And, of course, the work we do with non-profits, such as VoteTogether, Tas Somoza and the 3% Percent Conference to name but a few.”
I asked Ludwig what she was proudest of. “We're most proud of the fact that 90% of the brands we work with are purpose-driven. That was a lofty goal when we started out 5 years ago. Purpose was a fringe concept but it was why we started the agency so to see the cultural shift that's happening and to be a part of it what makes us excited for every Monday. For specifics, we're really proud of the work we've done recently with some amazing female-founded companies including BeautyGrass, NakedPoppy and Mia Becar—all amazing, purpose-driven companies.”
Ludwig continued, “We're also working with this amazing east-meets-west healthcare and acupuncture brand called Elysia here in LA. The new brand is launching soon but what they are doing is truly extraordinary, especially in the world of fertility and making that a less painful process for women. We've also been consulting with some large groups like Mars, looking at how they can bring purpose to their brands—that work is very inspiring because if you can use large corporations to start making an impact it can be HUGE.”
I asked Ludwig what other purpose driven brands she loved and why. “Brands that we aren't working with but that really inspire us?! Wow, there are so many. We're really into what ByHumankind is doing with reducing plastic consumption. Seed is doing some wonderful things with transparency, sharing their packaging resources for example. ForDays really love how they are questioning convention and pushing for a better product experience and being environmentally conscious. Those are just the first two that come to mind but the list is endless, there's so much good happening right now (despite how the current climate of the world might feel)!”
Ludwig also has some explicit advice to CMO’s in this new age of purpose. “Purpose isn't a marketing tactic. People will read through that fast, the bullsh*t radar is higher than ever. That's how gaffes are made. Also, don't try to jump into a purpose conversation that isn't authentic to you just because it's trending—that's a sure fire way to have no one believe in you. Do the work to find your purpose and then find and support the conversations where your purpose is made to thrive—even if they are small and niche, because in the blink of an eye they won't be.”
Finally, I asked her why she thought Los Angeles was so interesting right now as a City of Ideas? “The surge of creatives coming to LA has been happening for a while and now brands and businesses are flocking to mingle with them. What's interesting is that all these people are coming to escape one thing: burnout. LA has a unique opportunity to really define the future of work and what that means. But, it needs to do it fast before it falls pray to bad Silicon Valley or New York habits. We need to put our flag in the sand and say 'we do things differently here' and show the world that doing things with employees (a.k.a humans) in mind is the way to win.”