Impact Marketing Transformed into Meaningful Impact

Annual business and ESG reporting, grounded in well-honed strategy and well-crafted copy

Impact is not just a moral obligation; it is a hallmark of sound governance, which also makes great business sense.

While profit is essential to business survival, impact beyond profit is core to the survival of businesses, communities, and the planet too.

What is impact marketing?

Impact marketing is a term you may feel familiar with. However, to prove sustainable in embodying trust and loyalty, it cannot exist in silos. Here we distinguish three overlapping terms, namely, business intent, impact marketing, and business impact:

Business Intent

Business intent describes the core purpose and rationale of your organisation; its reason for existing. Greenwashing, for example, is where Impact Marketing fails to align with Business Intent or Impact. Impact Marketing cannot be truly meaningful unless it represents your business intent, and that intent permeates your business culture.


Impact Marketing

Impact Marketing externalises the relationship between business intent and business impact. By aligning purpose between a business and its stakeholders, in a way that offers meaningful value beyond words, businesses are able to win hearts and minds, resulting in long-term trust, loyalty, and advocacy.


Business Impact

Not to be confused with Business Impact Analysis (BIA), Business Impact describes the net impact your business has on society, including its immediate stakeholders (e.g., shareholders, employees, and customers)

Net Positive Commerce: A Win for Shareholders and Society

An increasing number of organisations are committing to a ‘Nature Positive’ or ‘Climate Positive’ future, often by 2030, with many (such as Brewdog, the leading UK craft beer) claiming to have achieved it in 2023.

Others are simply targeting ‘net positive impact’, a broader measure of utility that results in a business giving more to society than it takes away, whether through depletion, emissions, or impact on public health. We believe all businesses must commit to net positive utility as a minimum standard. Without action, those who do not will soon cease to be relevant.

In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.
Theodore Roosevelt

Enter Capitalism 2.0

In 1776, Adam Smith penned ‘Wealth of Nations’, cementing an economic pathway that placed self-interest at the heart of societal wellbeing, transcending classical and neoliberal economics (Capitalism 1.0).

Though our world in 2024 is vastly different from Smith’s,. For instance, in just 100 years, the UK’s population has quadrupled.

Smith’s writings underlined the shortcomings of capitalism as well as its potential, namely, polarisation, scarcity, and the destabilising use of power. Economists widely agree that societal costs represent market failures, that these have been scarcely accounted for, and that the time has come for that to change.

As capitalism 1.0 nears its end, culturally, environmentally, and technologically, progressive, well-run businesses look towards capitalism 2.0.

Our Passion

After nearly 20 years of marketing some of the UK’s best-loved brands, our founder travelled Asia by bicycle, witnessing our devastating impact on the natural world. On his return, Duncan pivoted his career, working with brands on a mission to balance societal costs with greater good. Following an MSc in Sustainability and Behaviour Change, 4D Impact was born.

Be the Change

How many of us stopped to think when embarking on a career: Why am I doing this? What truly drives me? Questions increasingly asked by those of us seeking to connect our values with our ambitions.

If the only answers you have are money and career, your ability to attract the best talent is in decline.

Impact beyond the bottom line

Each step towards intent and impact places you closer to fulfilling stakeholder needs. The incredible thing about ESG, is its ability to connect investors, employees, customers, and society at large. What is good for society, is increasingly good for business.

Since 2020, EY, McKinsey, and Gartner have found that 80%+ of investors consider ESG credentials an important factor of whether or not to proceed with an investment.

Treat employees as individuals with meaning and purpose, and their loyalty and advocacy grows. Companies who play a net negative role in society are increasingly less attractive places to work, have lower retention rates, and higher staffing costs overall.

Like employees, customers are increasingly voting with their feet, in support of brands who align with their values and world-view. Selling a product’s function is no longer enough.

When capitalism was conceived, it was for the ultimate benefit of society; profit a necesary means to an end. Sound business governance ensures genuine balance between societal harm and good, including the natural environment on which it depends.

Replace Greenwash with Intent and Impact

We are firm believers that the benefits of genuine intent strongly outweigh those of impact marketing without substance, transpiring into better business outcomes, a better place to work, and a better society for all.

However, this is a transitional time, and transition is rarely simple. Our services are built not to judge where you’ve been, but to facilitate where you’re going.

Book a call to discuss your ESG Strategy

Ready to connect with your audiences on a deeper level? Book a free eCommerce strategy call – typically 30 mins, and we’ll provide at least 3 clear recommendations, with no charge or obligation attached.

Enquire about part-funding for selected Not for profits, including CICs, Charities, and NGOs.

Schedule a call

Our ‘4 Purposeful Ps’

We devised ‘4 Purposeful Ps’ to highlight our rationale for Purpose Beyond Profit.


Profit enables companies, shareholders, and employees to thrive, by providing the financial means of fulfilling human needs, whether those of shareholders, employees, or society at large.

Customer needs are also fulfiled through product function and innovation; which must be funded by healthy commercials

When identifying purpose, we take an honest and open approach to profit as an enabler, without which our other 3 Ps would not be possible.


The nature of business shapes the nature of our wider environment.

Profit always comes at a cost to the world we live in, though, without robust ESG data, it is often hard to appreciate scale, whether generated by Scope 1 (internal), Scope 2 (indirect energy), or Scope 3 (partner) emissions; via the impact of our products and services on public health, or the ecosystems it depends on.

Critically, major societal challenges, such as global heating also pose very real economic challenges to supply chains. Preservation, is therefore, both a moral duty, and vital in mitigating strategic risk.


Work consumes c.60% of our waking hours, Monday-Friday, and so, it’s no wonder people want to feel they are working for more than making ends meet. Surveys show employees value purpose beyond profit, as a means of fulfiling their own values and sense of identity. As people are the most important asset of any company, purposeful work pays dividends in employee happiness, motivation, wellbeing, and retention.

Secondly, our products and services target People, each of whom carry values and beliefs at the core of their world-view. To capture hearts and minds, our brands must extend beyond functional benefits.


From electric cars, to bamboo toothbrushes, low carbon products present a major re-think in how we conduct business, and approach market with strategies that limit envioronmental harm .

All product categories have the opportunity to utilise purpose as a platform for innovation, unlocking new markets, and meaningful differentiation.

Potential also extends to the possibility of ‘net positive’ business, where we go beyond notions such as ‘net zero’ to deliver societal benefits greater than the sum of a business’ external costs.

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