What Is Brand Purpose And Why Is It More Important Than Ever For Your Business
With more competition than ever before, customer buying habits changing and a lot of brands suffering a bit of an identity crisis, how can brands today stand out, make an impact and build a loyal following?
Often, when organisations look at ways to position themselves in the marketplace, they focus on the obvious tangible elements like product, service, and marketing campaigns. While these things are important for developing sustainable growth, these aren’t the factors that form the heart of your organisation, the reason you exist. To gain a real competitive edge and attract attention, today’s brands need something more – They need a purpose.
“The brands that will thrive in the coming years are the ones that have a purpose beyond profit.”— Richard Branson
Today’s consumer has access to so much information and takes a bigger interest than ever before in where they commit their time, money and loyalty. They can see straight through BS and inauthenticity, it’s time to step out from behind the quick win tactics and be real.
For an increasing number of businesses and their employees, the pursuit of profit is no longer enough. As companies throughout the world continue to strive for differentiation and find their space, the purpose-driven brands are the ones earning the attention and building the loyalty of their customers.
Your brand purpose can inspire loyalty, convince your customers to trust and relate to you, and ensure that your fans forgive your weaknesses, sing your praises, and wave your flag
That means it’s no longer enough for companies to share the same old clichés about why their product is bigger, better, faster, cheaper etc. Instead, you need to be spending time understanding what your customer really wants and values, creating a connection with them and giving them something to hold onto that goes beyond price points and packaging.
So what is brand purpose?
Brand purpose represents your reason for being and what you stand for above all else. It’s often referred to as your North Star.
It is essentially a brand’s reason for existing beyond making money. As we alluded to earlier, a brand purpose connects you with your audience on a more emotional level, it focuses the company’s business strategy on delivering value and meaning for customers, employees and other stakeholders; it determines the significant choices the business makes, who it works with, what it does to create value for them
Not to be confused with social purpose, while there are similarities, your social purpose is led from brand purpose and is about focusing on creating a better world, being an engine for good and conducting your business in a way that is a positive force in society.
Why brand purpose is good for your bottom line.
The biggest misconception organisations have about the purpose of a brand is assuming that their ultimate goal and their purpose is the same thing. Every organisation wants to make a living, so the purpose of a brand is not “to make more money”. If you make that your focus, then you’re going to end up feeding the 42% of consumers who don’t trust brands.
Today’s consumers are purchasing savvy, they need more than a great product, catchy slogan and meaningless promises. They have an amazing amount of choice at their fingertips, they are experienced purchasers, battle-hardened ad avoiders and amazing detectives when it comes to scrutinizing a product and brand before purchasing.
But one thing they all have in common is they all look for transparent brands, that create connections, are relevant and that line up with who they are and their values.
Too many companies fail to capture the “passion” in finding their brand purpose. Instead, they simply end up with uninspiring, over-done mission statements that are neither memorable nor moving. In a world where customers are looking to interact with organisations with drive and personality, you can’t afford to be basic or bland.
It goes without saying you want to make money as a business but this should be secondary to your brand purpose. A brand purpose is a long term play and not a short term fix, but the evidence shows it could be the thing that keeps you in the game when others falter by focusing on money only.
With companies like Apple, Nike, Patagonia and Google all believing and showcasing that a purpose-driven brand strategy for growth, focusing on more than the bottom line is a worthy and profitable goal.
Brand purpose vs. Brand vision, mission, and values: What’s the difference?
So, we’ve touched on brand purpose and why it’s important. But it’s also important to clarify what brand purpose isn’t.
Your brand purpose is not your brand vision, mission, or values. Obviously, they’re related; each builds off the other. But if your vision, mission, and values are the building blocks of your brand, think of your brand purpose as the foundation.
- Brand purpose outlines “why” you exist. Your brand purpose is the meaning behind your existence, an idealistic view of what you want to become to your audience, for iexample: “We want to help business brand with impact understand how to use their brand for growth.”
- Brand values explain the ethics and behaviours you’ll use to get to your destination. Your values establish the qualities you idealise as a company, such as innovation, inclusivity, or creativity.
- Brand mission defines what you need to do to reach your goals. Your mission might outline specific tactics or initiatives you have in mind for operational excellence, product development, or brand communications.
- Brand vision highlights where you want to end up. If you stick to your purpose, values, and mission, where do you hope to be at the end of the next five years? For example: “We want to be the UK’s favourite purpose-led branding company by 2027.
How to define your brand purpose – finding your true north
Step 1: Start with your ideology
While your brand purpose and brand values aren’t the same things, becoming a purpose-driven brand requires a full view of your overall ideology. Before you can determine “why” you exist, you need to think about what you believe in, and what you’re willing to fight for.
A strong brand doesn’t just refresh every couple of years – it evolves. Your ideology will give you the compass you need to remain consistent and likeable over time.
Some things to ask yourself and your team
- How did the brand start?
- Why was the brand created? (The reason or moment of inspiration)
- What differentiates us as a brand?
Look at Nike, for instance, this athletic brand wants to inspire customers to overcome adversity, and achieve their goals. In pursuit of their vision, and in line with their purpose, the business has explored countless crucial topics, including feminism, racism, the power of dreams, and health.
Start broad with your ideology, then focus on a purpose, before exploring different topics you can address along the way.
Step 2: Context is crucial
The things that matter to you as an organisation, need to matter to your target audience – otherwise, you have no hope of cultivating loyalty.
With that in mind, becoming a purpose-driven brand means thinking about your cultural and competitive context. Think about the marketplace you’re breaking into, and the issues that matter most to your customers.
For instance, if you are a cosmetics company selling affordable hair care products, what would be your reason for doing that? Sure, you want to improve your chances of customers choosing you over your competitors, and cheap items are a good way to do that.
However, a stronger purpose would be that you want to give people with low incomes the chance to feel the luxury and confidence of a great cosmetic experience.
Differentiating yourself with brand purpose isn’t just about standing out for the sake of it. It’s about finding a way to be relevant to people in need of your products or service.
Step 3: Offer real value
A purpose-driven brand is powerful because it solves real problems for real people. It’s nice to say that you’re trying to make the world a better place, but ultimately that’s just a vague comment that doesn’t really appeal to anyone.
Look at the customers that exist in your marketplace. Think about creating a user persona if you have to, and use what you learn about those people to decide what the purpose of a brand in your industry should be.
Dove doesn’t just deliver luxury beauty products to the world, they focus on making “normal” women feel extraordinary. Range Rover doesn’t just produce cars, they help to feed the natural sense of adventure that humans have. Just try to make sure that you’re not solving a problem that’s already been addressed by countless companies in your sector.
Step 4: Stand for something
If you’re too busy trying to please everyone with your product, then you can’t stand out. Unfortunately, purpose-driven brands are identified by their controversial approach to certain topics.
Ask yourself who isn’t going to like your brand purpose, but don’t focus on it, just know they are not your people. As long as you’re not alienating people, then you should be on the track. Remember, creating an amazing company means using your unique voice to appeal to one group, and qualify out another.
Step 5: Bring it all together
Take a bit of time to look through the answers and see if there is a common thread running through. Now you’re ready to define your brand purpose, use all the previous answers to articulate the following:
Why you exist. Your brand purpose is the meaning behind your existence, and what you want to become to your audience
Step 6: Be consistent
One of the main reasons why purpose-driven brands have been met with so much controversy lately is that too many companies fail to imbed it in everything they do. Unless you build your company around your values and purpose, then you’re just another organisation with another marketing gimmick adding more noise into the world.
The purpose of a brand gives that company a reason for being, everything else should slot alongside it. While your brand purpose doesn’t have to change the world, it does have to be something that you’re prepared to stick to. Let your purpose inspire the changes you make as your company grows, and become a staple of your brand strategy.
Above all else, remember that your brand purpose is a promise that you make to your customers – don’t choose a promise you can’t keep.
It’s time to find your brand purpose
It’s easy to overlook the search for brand purpose as some cosmic search for unachievable ideals. However, the truth is that your purpose can be as simple, or complicated as you like. The only thing that is certain, is that it needs to be something that can inspire, and drive your company forward.
Purpose-driven brands outperform their competitors on multiple levels, achieving greater customer loyalty, stronger brand affinity, and infinitely more powerful marketing campaigns.
Running a successful company isn’t easy. Anyone who starts a business knows how challenging it can be to earn the loyalty and custom of their target audience. However, part of becoming a powerful brand involves finding a purpose that can guide you.
Just like people, organisations need a guiding star to motivate them and keep them centred as they change and grow. Brand purpose is more than just something that attracts an audience – it’s the key to motivating yourself and your employees.
Find your purpose, and you’ll find the path to success.