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When I first heard about brand purpose, my first thought was that it was just airy fairy nonsense. Great for companies that are trying to change the world but next to useless for everyone else.

When you think of brand purpose, companies like Apple and Tesla jump to mind but what about a normal business? If you mention brand purpose to them, they start snickering in the corner. Are they missing a trick?

Why do you need a brand purpose?

No one has a looking glass that can see into the future and what challenges you’ll face. That is why a brand purpose is so valuable. It shines a clear light on the path your brand should follow. It gives your brand clarity of action but also credibility with your consumer. That’s very powerful.

Lot of brands are just drifting, chasing fads and sales with no real direction. A purpose defines your point of difference, a way forward that cements a relationship with your customers.

A brand purpose in invaluable when you have no idea how to push your company forward because you don’t know where you are headed or how to get there.

If you let your brand drift, it will become irrelevant, overtaken by events or the competition. Now is a great to think about tomorrow.

Cultivating a purpose

Cultivating a purpose has the same benefits for a brand as it does for a person – it is healthier, happier, more productive.

You do not have to come up with an idea that changes the world.

Just let people know why you are in business. What’s the idea that gets you out of bed in the morning and drives you to work?

If you move past the money, what is it?

Your customer does not buy a product just to make you rich, they want something for themselves. Strong brands connect with their customers.

When you find a strong purpose, it will create a connection between you and your audience.

It takes your brand beyond logic and reason and creates an emotional relationship.

That is the crux of brand loyalty.

You are connecting the beliefs of your brand with the beliefs of your customers. And that is gold.

A great example of brand purpose is Dove soap. Their purpose became to help women develop a positive relationship with the way they look. That was transformational for the brand.

What is brand purpose?

Simply put, a brand purpose is its reason for being, the “why” you are in business. The reason you are passionate about your brand.

Now this can be difficult to get your head around. It can feel intangible, hard to express and that’s why many companies put that in the ‘too hard’ basket. Your competition have probably done just that and that is exactly why you should not. People buy into the reason why.

A purpose is about aspiration, what you are trying to achieve and it is always in front of you.

It is not to be confused with goals.

A brand purpose can help you define goals, post landmarks for your journey but a purpose is  always set in front of you, it acts like a compass, pointing you in the right direction.

Your purpose helps you measure your progress and plan the trajectory of your brand. Your decisions are guided by that principle.

Time and resources are limited for every brand, with a brand purpose all those decisions are more efficient. You are always building toward something. And that makes your life so much easier.

Purpose will give you clarity, help you shape your brand communications and goals. It will also do that for your staff and for your customers.

Make your brand more attractive

Strong sense of purpose makes your brand more attractive. People like purpose, they want to be around personalities that will take them somewhere.

We are drawn to brands that are truly engaged in what they are doing.

The brand speaks for them and is an expression of their beliefs, they are literally buying into what the brand stands for.

The benefits of a brand purpose

Brands are less impulsive. Your brand becomes proactive rather than reactive. You are working towards something rather than responding to events.

That’s healthy and gives your brand longevity.

It adds value. People will pay a premium for a brand with purpose.

It gives you credibility with your consumer, a reason to believe in you and invest time with your brand.

Staff and customers feel empowered and inspired.

That helps you attract and retain better staff.

A brand purpose helps you develop a brand strategy.

Growing your brand with a brand purpose

Knowing why you exist gives you:-

  • A brand vision of where you want to be.
  • A brand mission to change how things stand.
  • A brand position in the market that differentiates you.
  • A brand voice – how you speak to the world.
  • Brand values, what you hold dear.

How do you work out your brand purpose?

When you people start talking about, “What’s your purpose in life,” you tend to roll your eyes and cringe a little. It feels very high-brow, a touchy-feely thing that is not about business.

You do not have to be in business to change the world. Great if you are but we cannot all be Apple or Tesla.

They both have a direction and all their activities are directed by their beliefs.

But what if you are not an Apple or Tesla? How is brand purpose relevant?

Ask yourself some simple questions.

  1. Do you feel your brand has a direction?
  2. Do you feel your daily activities are engaging/important?
  3. Why were you started?
  4. What can you champion?

A sense of purpose in not an objective proof, it’s a subjective experience.

Brands deliver a hierarchy of needs. At a basic commodity level they are simple, your consumer has to know you exist and what you do. If you want to strengthen your relationship with your consumer then you need to take that up a notch with better engagement and storytelling and this is when purpose becomes very useful.

It must be based on a truth.

Brand purpose can be a very powerful tool but beware – if you are insincere you consumer sill sniff that out in a heartbeat.

A brand purpose cannot just be a tag line, a throw-away glib statement, it has to be something the brand lives and breathes.

A purpose is an anchor for your brand, if there is no truth to it all your communications will fall apart.

This article was written be Steve Girdlestone, who has been helping brands make their mark on the world for over twenty years. You can contact him here.