Niche Picking with Ikigai: Finding Your Brand Purpose Just Got Easier


The Japanese concept called ikigai, loosely translated as your reason for living, has long fascinated me.

It’s not perfect, but the Purpose Venn diagram by Andrés Zuzunaga gives us a framework to figure out what we’re meant to do. It’s the intersection of (1) what you love, (2) what you’re good at, (3) what gets you paid, and (4) what the world needs.

Niche Picking with Ikigai: Finding Your Brand Purpose Just Got Easier

I’ve been using this ideology to filter out hundreds of business ideas in my head. It’s a handy framework for sustainable branding, too.

At first, I thought it best to start with what you love. Other times, it seemed easier to start with what you do well, or what you’re paid to do. Either way, what the world needs usually ended up last. Almost like an afterthought.

Pretty embarrassing, but that’s what I believed. (I have to keep reminding myself that incorporating the fourth element early on, even a tiny portion, makes each day so fulfilling. Often, it’s easier to think that what we do well that we also love, is what the world needs. While it’s true that using our gifts is exactly what the world needs, we need to go beyond that.)

Until I heard this quote from billionaire tech investor Chamath Palihapitiya:

“The world’s first trillionaire will be made in climate change.”

That makes sense. If we’re rewarded in proportion to our contributions and the magnitude, intensity, and urgency of the problems we solve…what’s a bigger, more urgent, more intense problem than the climate crisis?

Sustainable is the future of business. It’s the next gold rush. The next oil boom.

Australia just recently voted based on values. Soon, more people will vote with dollars.

Being best or different won’t be enough. More people are choosing to buy sustainable. Sustainable comes at a premium right now, but the prices are almost on par as non-sustainable alternatives. It will continue to become cheaper when we choose nothing less. It’s the law of supply and demand.

Today, it’s almost a social responsibility — especially for those of us who have the privilege and purchasing power to choose — to choose better.

“As consumers, we have so much power to change the world by just being careful in what we buy.” — Emma Watson

It’s not just about what we buy, but the businesses we serve and support. If we have no idea how to solve climate change, how about we support those who do?

So with picking a niche, for those who have trouble choosing…what’s something you’re good at, your natural talents, that might be useful in solving the climate crisis or in supporting companies and creators working towards it?

It’s the best niche to choose, because it’s what the world needs right now. It’s a massive problem that people will support and pay for. And a few decades from now, when you see the difference you’ve contributed, it’ll almost be impossible not to love what you do.

sustainability niches ikigai