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Your brand needs a purpose

Scottish author, William Barclay once said that there were two great days in someone’s life - the day they were born and the day they discovered why. Your brand is exactly the same.

Your purpose is why you get up in the morning. It’s why you commute to work, why you go throughout your day, go to sleep, and then do it all over again. Many people don’t have a clear purpose. That means they return home from work feeling unfulfilled.

Purposes drive actions. Martin Luther King gave the American people a purpose in 1963 when he stated that he had a dream. Leadership can be extremely powerful in generating a purpose. In your business, purpose trickles down from the top.

Why brands need a purpose

Giving your brand a purpose doesn’t just affect your employees. It can also motivate your customers into feeling like they are making a change or having an impact on the world.

Consider this question: who are you and why should I care? If asked that out on the street, it might seem odd or downright rude. But it defines the kind of company you have or want to have.

Consumers are bombarded with 10,000 brand messages every day. Attention spans are at a premium. People need to decide which brands to pay attention to and what to ignore. Brands with a clear purpose, and one that aligns with their values are more likely to be noticed. 8 in 10 consumers say that they feel more loyal to brands with a purpose.

Apple has the motto “Think Different.” It perfectly describes the brand’s ‘why’ – “With everything we do, we aim to challenge the status quo. We aim to think different”. How does it achieve this? With beautifully designed, user-friendly products, enthusiastic employees, and modern stores.

Purpose = profits

Having a purpose pays off profit-wise as well. Research has found that companies with a clear purpose have growth rates 10% higher than companies without a purpose. The same report discovered that 42% of businesses without a purpose had a revenue drop. In the same time period, 85% of purpose-led companies showed positive revenue growth.

The Financial Times has reported that companies with a purpose that extended beyond making money, ended up with shareholder returns that were six-times higher than profit-driven competitors.

What purpose is not

There’s sometimes a mix-up between purpose and corporate social responsibility (CSR). Whilst CSR projects are influenced by purpose, they are not one and the same. Brand purpose encompasses so much more.

Another thing to be aware of is that your purpose needs to stay current, which means it’s not to be set in stone or absolute. In fact, the most effective ones often change with the times. Your brand purpose can evolve and adapt to the changing needs of society.

Brands don’t always have to change the biggest problems in the world. Whilst some brands seek social justice, or to fight climate change and inequality, many others can solve problems in the everyday. Pret works with local food banks and homeless charities to distribute its unsold food, for example.

Remember, your brand cannot please everyone. Your purpose won’t always achieve worldwide happiness, but it should inform everything that your business does at every single point of the customer journey.

What purpose is

The brand purpose is the business’ ultimate reason for being. The reason why it exists beyond making money. It could be the very reason the brand was founded – like how shoe brand TOMS provides shoes and other products for people in need.

Having a purpose gives your brand a relevance in society. Hopefully, one that will give it longevity. It helps your employees unite under a common cause. It should be the foundation to all your business decisions. It’s the guiding force of your business.

A great purpose is woven into the fabric of your business. It’s in your product development, your customer experience, your marketing, and everything in between.

Under Armour’s brand purpose is to “Empower Athletes Everywhere.” It goes on to say that athletes come in all shapes and sizes. It supports the underdog. Under Armour wants to break the mold and this shines through in its designs, marketing, and sponsorship deals.

In doing so, it creates online and offline experiences that are memorable to its audience. It adds value to consumers’ lives and builds the kind of loyalty that you cannot get through a commercial or billboard.

Debunking some terms

Up until now, we’ve been discussing brand purpose. When researching yours, you might also come across the terms ‘vision’ and ‘mission’. Let me explain the difference between these terms:

Purpose is why your brand exists. It’s the big reason for being and it’s more than just making profits or driving shareholder value.

Vision is where you want to get to. It’s where you want your business to be in the future

Mission is what you need to do to achieve your vision. It can be specific initiatives or tactics centered around your marketing, product development, and operations.

Finally, there are values. This is how your organization needs to behave in order to achieve your mission and vision. It’s the qualities and behaviors that your organization prizes above all. Apple’s core value is innovation, whilst Under Armour’s is equality and to love athletes.

Unlocking all these things builds the foundation on which to build everything else.

How to do this

So, how can you bring your brand purpose to life? First, it must be part of your company culture. Your employees need to know about your purpose, to believe in it, and to live your brand purpose every single day. Culture is the first product of any business.

Your purpose can have a dedicated CSR initiative or fancy marketing campaign. Like Ariel’s Share the Load campaign. But it is much more than that. Think of when you walk into an Apple store. It’s shiny and well-lit. It screams innovation and modernity. Apple Geniuses embody the brand purpose and have become as well known as iPhones and Macs. 

It’s important to measure any purpose-driven campaigns. Not just on the usual marketing and vanity metrics, but on their impact. For Ariel’s Share the Load campaign, a good metric to track would be how many men have begun to do housework in family homes in the months following the campaign launch. Your metrics must help you understand how well your purpose has achieved your higher objectives.

The purpose-driven era

We are in a new era, where purpose-driven brands are outpacing all the rest. Purpose is critical to your brand. People are more attracted to brands with purpose, both as consumers and potential employees. With a purpose, your brand can make a profit and a change in the world. Embrace your purpose and you’ll find a deeper level of meaningfulness in your work.

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Arnt Eriksen. Simplifying the complexity
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