After capturing the hearts of many by portraying Dwight Schrute on NBC’s The Office, Rainn Wilson turned his comedic skills to SoulPancake, a mission-driven company that creates digital, TV and branded content.

Recently purchased by Participant Media, SoulPancake is a labor of love for Wilson, who felt called to take his role as an entertainer and broaden it to make a bigger contribution to society. “Human connection through storytelling is our purpose,” Wilson said of the company he co-founded, while delivering a keynote presentation at the Path to Purchase Expo earlier this month.

In today’s world, younger generations have lost faith in their government and their institutions, and people overall are more anxious, lonely and depressed than they’ve ever been in history, said SoulPancake chief executive officer Shabnam Mogharabi, who joined Wilson on stage. That's why leading with purpose is vitally important, both for individuals and for brands. From their own experience nurturing a purpose-driven brand, Wilson and Mogharabi shared advice for others aspiring to bridge the so-called “purpose gap:”

  1. Know your why: Being useful is critical for human beings. Knowing that as your centering and grounding force is really critical.
  2. Don’t conflate brand purpose with wanting to save the world: The purpose you adopt should be unique and authentic to your particular brand.
  3. Indifference is not an option anymore: More and more individuals are voting with their wallets for corporations that have the reach and impact to affect things they care about. Today, it’s actually riskier to stay silent than it is to stand up for your beliefs.
  4. Align your KPIs with your purpose: Everyone is measuring brand awareness and loyalty but not a lot of brands are measuring positive change for the issue they’re coming out on.
  5. Don’t put the cart before the horse: Make sure everybody in your company has gone all-in before you start talking broadly about your purpose.