Defining your Brand Purpose is one of the most important things you can do for your company, but many organisations aren’t taking advantage of what a strong Brand Purpose can do because they don’t know what it means.
What is a brand purpose?
For many, Brand Purpose is often confused with specific business goals or business strategies they might have. Part of the confusion comes from a range of different definitions people give to Brand Purpose. Let’s start at the beginning and explain what your Brand Purpose actually is. Your Brand Purpose is your business’s ‘WHY’. It’s the reason your business exists and it’s why you and your team get up and come to work every morning. This is different from your company vision. Your vision is what your business wants to achieve in the future. It’s also different from your mission, or what you do as a business every day.
Whereas you might achieve your vision or complete your strategy, you cannot fulfil a purpose. A purpose extends across a whole organisation and is vital to a successful brand design. Although purpose itself does not change, it does inspire change. The fact that you can never fulfil a purpose means that your business can never stop marching forward and will always have that edge in creating loyalty and unity.
So, why is your brand purpose so important?
Well, staff, customers and shareholders like to know you have the same beliefs and ideals as they do. These days, customers aren’t always looking for the best products at the best price. Customers are drawn to the idea that their spending can do more than just help them acquire goods and services. Your customers want you to use your power and influence to do good. People care that you care. The market is saturated with different products and services so your brand’s purpose sets you apart from your competitors. Customers buy from companies they like and if they see a little of their own personality traits in your company, they will express their approval of your brand purpose by buying your products and services.
For your brand purpose to be effective, it needs to guide everything your company does, but be careful not just to pay lip service to what you think your customers want to hear. This can turn people off your brand and it will be seen as just another marketing campaign. People will see right through insincerity and it’s difficult to get loyalty back once it’s lost.
Once you have a defined Brand Purpose, you need to build it into your brand design, and that means starting with your internal team and working your way outwards. Every member of your team needs to believe in your Brand Purpose, and it’s up to you to help them understand it. If your team can get excited about it, it gives them a sense of purpose, belonging and a reason to do what they do. Like I said earlier, it now becomes their reason to get out of bed and come to work every day, knowing there is a true purpose behind doing what they do. They’ll feel like what they are doing each day really matters and there’s no better feeling than that for all members of your team. Once your team is on board with it, it will show itself across your entire company and become embedded in everything you do as a business.
An important thing to remember is having a brand purpose is one thing, but standing up for it, no matter what the consequences are, is quite a different matter. If you want your team, your customers and your shareholders to truly believe in you, you need to be willing to take a stand for your brand purpose, even when the odds are stacked against you. We all remember what happened when Nike stood behind Colin Kaepernick and the protest movement he created. Their share price dropped dramatically when political groups starting calling for a boycott of the brand. But Nike stood up for what they believed, as did Colin Kaepernick, no matter what the cost would be. The Nike brand came out of the other side of the debate stronger and more empowered than ever before and their market value hit an all-time high.
Remember, your Brand Purpose is your business’s ‘WHY’. It’s the reason your business exists and it’s why you and your team get up and come to work every morning. It helps you connect with customers on a personal level with the intent to change their world for the better. It gives a deeper sense of meaning to everything you do and makes the challenges of running a business easier to take on board, as Tesla founder Elon Musk himself perfectly summed up by saying, “Putting in long hours for a corporation is hard. Putting in long hours for a cause is easy.” But the most important thing to remember is your brand purpose really will become the driving force behind everything you do and it will ensure customer loyalty for years to come.
I’ll leave you to ponder my favourite example of the power of a Brand Purpose. When US President John F. Kennedy visited NASA in 1962, he spoke to a janitor carrying a broom, asking the man what he did. “Well, Mr President,” the janitor replied, “I’m helping put a man on the moon.” This perfectly illustrates how the Brand Purpose of NASA had spread to every single person within the organization.